Phenix City (Ala.) Glenwood athlete A.J. Harris put himself on the map with a standout sophomore campaign, and he certainly put himself on Notre Dame’s radar. Standing at 6-2 and 180 pounds, Harris produced 10 special teams touchdowns in the return game in addition to multiple rushing and receiving scores for a total of 17 touchdowns overall. That type of performance when paired with his lockdown coverage skills has made the 2023 athlete one of the most coveted prospects in the nation.
This past week, Harris landed an offer from the Fighting Irish. Offers from Ole Miss and Maryland brought his scholarship total to 20. Out of all of Harris' early offers, though, the one he picked up from Notre Dame was special for a few important reasons.
“That was definitely one that I definitely wanted,” Harris told Irish Breakdown. “My dad is actually a huge fan of Notre Dame because he's from Gary, Indiana, so I actually grew up watching Notre Dame with my father. It was a blessing, but I didn't know it was coming. I was shocked, but I definitely took it all in. I love their coaching staff, and it was a pleasure for me and my dad to get on the phone with them and talk with them.”
Given his family-born affinity with Notre Dame, Harris was thrilled to hop on the phone with the coaching staff when he received his offer. Cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens relayed the good news and told Harris a bit more about the program.
“It's more than just football with me and my family,” Harris said. “Academics will definitely go into my decision, so just seeing that the Notre Dame degree means so much, that means a lot to me and my family. The academics definitely stand out to me. Football, Notre Dame is already known for football, so that takes care of itself.”
Now that Notre Dame has joined the mix as one of many schools to offer the rising recruit, Harris is excited for the opportunity to step onto Notre Dame's campus in South Bend and to check out more of the school that he's been following since his childhood.
“I'm planning on [visiting] soon,” Harris added. “I'll definitely be taking a trip up there.”
In addition to Notre Dame, Harris says he would like to visit every school that has offered him up to this point if he can. While that may seem like a tall task for a prospect that is picking up new scholarships by the week, Harris is connected with a trainer in Georgia that plans to make the rounds to several major Power Five schools sooner rather than later.
Ideally, Harris would like to take these visits during the offseason before he starts preparing with his teammates for the start of the 2021 season, but that should not be taken as indication that he's not steadily working and training during the offseason. In fact, that couldn't be further from the truth.
“I train with the best DB trainer in the nation named Oliver Davis up in Atlanta,” Harris remarked. “I go up there weekly to train with him for DB-specific drills, so I do that every weekend. There are definitely trainers down here in Columbus, Georgia. I work with two more DB coaches down here, and I usually work with them Tuesday and Thursday. Last year we went to states and this year I'm trying to take us back to states, so I've been striving, lifting and attacking the weight room hard. I'm trying to be a college-ready product by the time it's time for me to enroll in whatever college I'm going to attend.”
Harris prides himself on his ability to move around in the secondary, and he says that his willingness to contribute on special teams in the return game only makes him a more valuable commodity to his future team. But before he names and eventually joins his next school, Harris is focused on winning a state title with his Gator teammates after finished second in the state a year ago.
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