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Wednesday brought another opportunity for wide receivers coach Dabo Swinney to make another pitch for Clemson in-person with Gadsden (AL) Gadsden City linebacker Jerrell Harris.
“Dabo and their whole defensive staff was at the school today,” Gadsden City assistant coach and close Harris adviser Ali Smith told Tigerillustrated.com in an evening interview. “They were by for an hour and a half.”
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|Jerrell Harris has remained silent as of late on where he’ll announce on National Signing Day. Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, USC and Tennessee are in the hunt.|
Clemson was one of the first schools to offer the 6-foot-2, 220-pound four-star recipient who has been atop the Tigers’ recruiting board at his position from the onset.
“They gave Jerrell a great plan and message,” Smith said. “That’s a really good program, and coach Vic (Koenning) and the other defensive guys did a great job. Coach (Chris) Rumph made his pitch, too.”
Rumph, who coaches the defensive line for the Tigers, did have some time with Harris over the summer.
“Jerrell had an opportunity to work with him over the summer in some manner at the (Tommy Bowden) camp,” Smith said.
Harris’ cousin, senior wide receiver La’Donte Harris, signed with Clemson in 2004. La’Donte served as Harris’ player-host on the January 11-13 official visit.
“They’re pretty good buddies,” Smith added. “Jerrell knows he’d have somebody up there to lean on, but I don’t think that’s involved in the decision at all.”
Smith said several elements for Clemson have been strong points for the blue-chip backer.
“He likes the family atmosphere there, how it’s family-oriented,” said the assistant coach. “Coach Bowden is a straight forward man and they have a good recruiting class coming in.”
Swinney, the recruiter of record, also has made a very positive impression on the Rivals100 pick.
“Jerrell really believes in Dabo Swinney, as do all of our players,” Smith mentioned. “I think this is why it’s going to be a hard decision for him.”
Though Harris has not communicated with the media as of late, Smith weighed in on the star backer’s current impressions of several other finalists.
Auburn “They’re right there in the mix. Coach (Terry) Price and coach (James) Willis have as good a relationship with Jerrell as anyone. That’s why it would be hard for him to tell them no. They’ve been around him more than anybody. Those two are as big a fans of Jerrell as anyone who has been recruiting him for more than two years.”
Tennessee “They are right there in the mix, too. Everybody in the nation knows coach (John) Chavis is a heck of a defensive coach, and Jerrell understands that.”
USC “He came back from there star-struck. He was impressed with their linebackers and tradition, their numerous Lombardi trophy winners, and a chance to win the national championship. They’re loaded most places, but not at linebacker. Coach (Ken) Norton Jr. was here today.”
Alabama ” Jerrell, just in my opinion, just likes the way coach (Nick) Saban and all the coaches who are recruiting him for Alabama plan to help him accomplish his goals. Coach Saban has laid out a good plan for him, as far as the way he plays and fits in their system.”
Smith said some significant points of interest for Harris in the decision process will revolve around getting a degree and networking that after football, plus a program that provides a chance to win.
Asked about proximity, Smith replied, “He loves his mom and is going to make sure she’s comfortable, and she is with all five of his choices. A lot of people don’t think she’ll let him go all the way to USC, but I don’t think that’s the case.”
Harris’ close friend, four-star offensive tackle Antoine McClain of Anniston (AL), has been in contact recently. The two have expressed some interest in playing together on the next level.
“They talk daily, and he comes over to Gadsden a lot,” Smith said of McClain. “They do want to play together and wanted to do their press conferences together, but the two head coaches thought it would be better that they announced with their teammates, since both places have multiple kids signing that day.”
McClain is down to Clemson and Tennessee. He visited Clemson the same weekend Harris saw the Tigers up close and in person. The 6-foot-6, 317-pounder tripped to Tennessee on January 18.
Harris, who is not indicating a favorite, will make his decision known at a 2 PM news conference on February 6, National Signing Day.
“He’s going to have five hats, maybe only two or three, but probably five. He’ll have Dabo’s hat in there, I know that,” Smith said. “He wouldn’t put that one out. He’ll have one in there for coach Price, too.”
Harris is billed by Rivals.com as the No. 3 outside backer recruit in the nation. He is fourth-best in the state of Alabama overall regardless of position, and 34th nationally.