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No. 1 running back Damien Harris explains why he has interest in Kentucky

By LARRY VAUGHT

Damien Harris of Madison Southern is the nation’s top-ranked junior running back. At this time a year ago, he had little or no interest in Kentucky. He even verbally committed to Michigan before changing his mind and withdrawing his commitment.

Now he has a list of 10 schools that includes Kentucky even though few recruiting analysts think that the Cats are anywhere close to No. 1 at this time.

But after having little or no interest in UK last year, why is he interested now after Kentucky’s 2-10 finish last year?

“I love coach (Mark) Stoops first and foremost. When they came in, I was the first player he came to visit. He didn’t try to sell me anything. He just told me to give us a chance that we can prove we can turn things around. So I did,” Harris said. “I got to know coach (Neal) Brown, coach (Chad) Scott.

“I really like the coaching staff and what they are doing. I can tell they are turning things around and they are going to change the program.”

But he would like to see that turnaround start in 2014.

“Now as much as I wish had time to see what they do, unfortunately I only have another year. Hopefully I will be able to decide whether they have made enough improvement for me to really want to go there,” Harris said.

But UK fans should not be discouraged.

“But I love it. It is close to home. I wouldn’t have to go very far away from my mom and she would be right here with me. I could be a hometown hero. So if it is best for me, that is where I will end up. If not, then I will end up somewhere else,” Harris said.

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17 comments

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  1. Ira

    From an adult his views would be called mercenary. I understand each an every recruit regardless where they choose to go, humble division III or to a Div 1 school that is competing for a natl championship must decide what is best for themselves.

    But for UK to make that move in the SEC East there has to be players like Harris, from Kentucky who says I’m sticking with the home school, much like a couple of recruits did with South Carolina. Those two made such an impact for Spurrier, they are where they are today.

  2. JimCats

    Doesn’t sound as if he has any strong feelings of “my home state” other than that it would be close to Mom and he could be a hometown hero. If that attitude remains, he don’t be a Cat because he’ll be expecting more improvement than UK will be able to achieve this season with that tough SEC schedule.

  3. Larry Pup

    He has not committed to UK yet, but i see some interest there. He just may make UK real happy. He is one great back, and like Ira says, UK has to win some of these battles for top talent. Don’t count Stoops out just yet. Remember, Elam signed.

    1. David

      Yeah Larry and lets not forget Jason Hatcher. He had no interest in Kentucky while Joker was at Kentucky and even made comments making fun of Kentucky. Then coach Stoops comes in and persuades him to attend Kentucky and to help change our program so we can compete in the SEC. I have to say I am sure glad Hatcher picked Kentucky over USC, now lets convince Damien to pick the Cats and by the time he is a sophomore we will be competing for an SEC title. We really need Damien to accelerate this change and to help us shut up the hater’s.

      1. Larry Pup,

        You are right on David. I agree. And remember, playing close to home is sure easier on the family.

  4. Ira

    Your right Jim, nothing holding him here except parents for easier game view.
    Don’t think UK will make the strides he is looking for until next season. I think we win some games, but we ain’t gonna be no 9-3, or 8-4 season team this yr.

    1. Larry Pup

      Have faith boys. UK plays in the SEC, and Harris will have a chance to shine at UK too, and maybe see the field early. UK is rising, and Stoops is a good recruiter. I think this team may surprise a few people. They will not win the SEC championship I don’t think, but I look for them to be much improved. How many wins that translates into, who knows? I will be real happy with 5 or 6 wins, and I hope Harris will be a little easy on em until Stoops gets em rolling. You can’t advance up the hill without getting your fair share of 5 stars. The hell with Alabama.

  5. Andy

    There has to be demonstrated performance. Elam said it would not be overnight so I am sure Damien is not banking on us going 9-3 or 8-4 but he would like to see us competitive and hang with the big dogs in the SEC IMO.

    The good thing is we are beefing up the front line and getting additional WR’s and we have 3 capable QB’s. We are still digging out of the hole and these things take time to learn, develop and mature. As good as Harris is, high school to college is always a different ball game since most players have been around a while.

  6. Edward

    Everyone makes good points here, including Mr. Harris. I count it as a positive that he is willing to tell us where he stands in regards to UK recruitment. He isn’t really saying anything that much differently than the fans who are weighing in on whether to go for season tickets or not. We acknowledge hard working UK coaches, so does he. We applaud two years of solid recruiting and so does Mr. Harris. We also remember two seasons of 4-20 and so does he. Many of us are not real sure what kind of record we will accept this coming season and neither is he able to say that for himself. We are adults and he is a kid and we are all pretty much saying the same thing. WE WANT “W’s”.

  7. TR

    Sounds like this young man can think quite well for himself, do hope he picks the instate university but it’s his call.

  8. Gene T.

    i agree with everyone of the comments above. I have to sit back and wonder why we (UK) got so bad in 3 short years under Joker. I for one knew it was not a good hire for Joker to be the Head Coach. When we hired Brooks, i told friends I hope he can build a foundation and then hire a young and hungry new Coach to keep building. Joker set us back more than the 3 years he was Coach. Stoops is doing a great job, but it will take another year to even get to 500. Every win above 4 is icing on the cake this year. GO CATS!!!!!!!

  9. Edward

    The good news in all of what we are saying is this: The FOOTBALL CULTURE at this university is changing for the better and is readily apparent to any careful observer. We are now getting serious consideration from young athletes and more than a few commitments from some of the best of them. We are truly going head to head with Alabama, OSU, FSU, Auburn and the like, and sometimes we are winning the recruiting battles. We have a young, accomplished and very hard working coaching staff that is making strides towards everyone’s goals. Isn’t this fun?

    1. Larry Pup

      I agree Edward, but somewhere down the line Stoops has to start winning, or interest will fade fast, success breeds success. He has done a great job so far recruiting, but people have short memories around here. Another meager two or three win season this year and the honeymoon will start to dull. I do think he needs time, and the new contract extension will help, but these 4 and 5 star recruits he is wanting at UK want to see a winning program, i.e Dammien Harris. UK needs six wins this year IMO to set the pace for program building for the future, and five at a minimum. The last thing I would say is that the Louisville game is a must win. Lose that one and BP will own UK.

  10. Paul

    Hey, I love my home state and my alma mater – – but I love my 89 year old Mom a hell of a lot more !!
    Don’t discount his “close to Mom” comment.

  11. Ira

    LP,

    I agree with the win column. We don’t have to go 8 or 9 wins, but we need 6 this year. That would show so much positive improvement. The fans would certainly love it, but more importantly, the coaching staff could say and would point this is where we are headed. We are building off of this. The recruits could actually see it. You can only talk a good game so long then it’s just smack. Think we will be better than all the pundits has picked, but next season is when UK will really surprise people.

  12. Edward

    Well Said, Ira, very well said indeed!

  13. Phillip Barker

    Momma, come see your boy play every home game at Kentucky!

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