Douglass receiver Paul Harris acknowledged Tuesday that he did not decide to attend his dream school. Instead, the rising senior, a four-star recruit according to Rivals.com, picked the school with which he felt the closest connection. He orally committed to Tennessee, and he plans to enroll at the Knoxville university in January after graduating from high school a semester early.
“My final choice was between [Southern California] and Tennessee,” Harris said in a telephone interview. “Everybody thought because USC is so big that that was the school I was going to choose, and they knew that USC was a dream school of mine. So when I picked Tennessee, I think it shocked everybody.”
Harris, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound wideout, is Tennessee’s 14th commitment in its Class of 2013 and the third at his position. He said the Tennessee coaches told him they expect him to play right away and that enrolling a semester early will aid him in that regard.
“I really trust the coaching staff,” Harris said. “I wouldn’t have picked Tennessee if I didn’t.”
While Harris had developed close relationships with two of USC’s coaches, he said he has developed the same bonds with every member of Tennessee’s staff. That, in the end, proved to be a deciding factor in his decision.
Harris recently visited both schools, and he said he entered his trip to USC thinking that would be the school he would attend. But after both visits, his thought process began to evolve.
“I wanted everything to feel the same,” Harris said. “I wanted my feelings to stay the same with each coach. I didn’t want to have me like one coach and not like the other coach. With Tennessee, I fit better in the system because all the coaches connect with me. I talk to all the coaches and have a relationship with all the coaches. With USC, I don’t have that.”
His original plan was to announce his decision at the end of the month, but once Harris had become convinced Tennessee was where he wanted to go, he saw no point in further delaying the process.
“It was just time to end it,” Harris said. “I knew what school I needed to go to, I knew what school I wanted to go to, and I knew what school was going to prepare me the best, so I might as well end it. And I’m strongly committed to them, you know? I’m not going to take no other official visits. My mom taught me to be a man of my word. I made this commitment, so I’m done with looking at schools.”
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