Trent Harris proved Monday in committing to the University of Miami that it’s not about being a fan.
When it comes to college-football recruiting, it usually doesn’t matter if a player’s past loyalties lie with the school he chooses. It’s a business — in many instances, a very cold, harsh business.
Fortunately for lifelong Florida Gators fan Harris, the cruel world of recruiting didn’t bite him as harshly as it has others. He had options ... very good options.
Harris, a 6-foot-2, 231-pound defensive end at Winter Park, grew up an avid supporter of UF. The walls of his bedroom are painted orange and blue. He has Gators blankets, sheets, rugs, posters, pennants, pillow cases. ... OK, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it's been a topic of conversation among his friends and coaches.
After Harris announced during a live Orlando Sentinel webcast he was going to Miami, his mom made a good point. “Now you’ll have to paint your room,” Betsy Harris said.
Of course, Trent Harris would have loved to play at The Swamp and attend his dream school — the University of Florida — but that wasn’t in the cards for the No. 5-ranked player in the Sentinel’s 2014 Central Florida Super60.
He had a scholarship offer from the Gators, which he received March 1, and was likely close to committing to UF during the spring. In fact, losing Harris is one more thing Gator fans can blame on Urban Meyer.
Just before he was set to make his college announcement, which Harris had tentatively slated for May 24 after the Wildcats’ spring game, Ohio State offered a scholarship on May 13.
Harris said at the time, “Yeah, that changes everything. I’m going to try my best to get up there [to Ohio State] for a visit. I know Urban Meyer is a good coach and a good man ... and I like that.”
Those last few words surely infuriated Gator fans. Even if they weren’t high on Harris joining the UF 2014 recruiting class, they certainly didn’t want to see Meyer getting him.
“It was very difficult ... extremely difficult,” Harris said of his choice. “I liked Florida since I was little, but I’m not little any more. I needed to make a grown man’s choice of what to do and what will be best to further my abilities. Florida just wasn’t going to work out for me and so Miami is the best choice.”
Harris had 22 scholarship offers from Football Bowl Subdivision schools — including other big-time programs such as Alabama, Florida State and South Carolina. He decided to put more research into his decision and take a little more time. The delay making his college selection may have cost him his UF opportunity.
Last week the Gators’ coaching staff took a commitment from Clearwater Central Catholic’s Justus Reed, likely filling the UF 2014 quota at that position. Reed will be playing as a defensive rush end or outside linebacker, same as Harris.
Despite the limited space on the Gators’ roster and the challenge he may have faced if he actually tried to commit to Florida, Harris seemed content with the way the recruiting process worked out.
He let out a booming yelp as soon as the Sentinel’s live webcast ended and bounded down the hallways on his way out of the building, pumping his fist and saying, “Hurricanes, baby!”
It was clear that he is one happy ’Cane.
“It feels great just to get it off my shoulders. I can now focus on my football season and my team,” Harris said afterward. “And now I’m ready to play football for the University of Miami.”
Harris’ brother, Troy, is a senior defensive end at Mars Hill in North Carolina and was the co-South Atlantic Conference defensive player of the year last year.
Trent Harris aims to be just as successful in college after recording 50 tackles and 11 sacks last season at Winter Park.
As for painting his room, at least he can still use the existing orange.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun