A few seconds after she stepped down from the podium at Friday’s press conference where her son announced his commitment to Alabama, Damien Harris’ mother got the standard question.
“Is the decision final?” a reporter asked.
The tone of her response left no doubt. “It’s final,” she replied.
Harris echoed his mother. “Now that I’ve made my decision, I’m very happy with it,” he said. “I’m ready to move forward.”
Moving forward is something that Harris did exceptionally well for Madison Southern Academy in Berea, KY. This past season he rushed for nearly 1,600 yards and 23 touchdowns despite missing four games due to knee injury. The 5-10, 208-pound standout rushed for over 5,200 yards and scored 111 touchdowns in his prep career.
Some have questioned the competition Harris faced in Kentucky. They say he piled up stats against sub-par talent. He quieted doubters with his performance in the Under Armour All-American Game. Against the nation’s best prep talent, Harris ran for 110 yards, including a nifty 36-yard TD scamper, on 16 carries.
At his press conference, when he announced his commitment to Alabama over Kentucky and Ohio State, Harris was asked to rate himself. He humbly asked the reporter if he could skip the question.
“I don’t like to rate myself,” Harris said with a smile.
The recruiting services rate Harris a five-star prospect. His coach, Jon Clark, agrees with that.
“He’s got great speed and vision,” Clark said. “He sees things that you can’t see from the sideline or even when you look at the end zone shot on the game tape. Then he has the speed to accelerate and run by the second and third level defenders. He’s got the power, with his size, to break tackles. People have a real hard time knocking him off his feet. He leaves defenses grabbing air.”
Harris’ decision makes a lot of people in his home state of Kentucky sad. But it made a lot of other people, including several fellow Tide commitments, very happy. Alabama quarterback recruit Blake Barnett, who is already in enrolled in school at UA, played a big role in recruiting Harris. The two players built a strong relationship during the process.
“It made a difference,” Harris said of his friendship with Barnett. “Blake and I became good friends and that was important. I look forward to playing with him.”
There were more reasons for Harris: “Alabama has a great tradition, they’re tradition rich,” Harris said. “Their program develops players athletically and academically. They have a history of developing players for the NFL.
“I just felt that Alabama was the best place for me.”

Cooper, Collins, Yeldon
Will Enter NFL Draft
The University of Alabama held a press conference on Friday morning for juniors announcing their intentions to declare for this spring’s NFL Draft. Three Tide players are departing — wide receiver Amari Cooper, safety Landon Collins and running back T.J. Yeldon. Head Coach Nick Saban said he supported all three players. The question is: Will there be others?
Two other players whose decisions remain unclear are defensive lineman Jarran Reed and linebacker Reggie Ragland.
In response to questions about his future at the Sugar Bowl media event last week, Reed said that he planned to return to UA for his senior season. But that certainly shouldn’t be taken as a final decision. The 6-3, 315-pounder reportedly received a second-round grade from the NFL, and some expect him to announce that he’s leaving.
Ragland had an outstanding junior season, his first as a starter. The 6-3, 255-pounder finished as the Tide’s second-leading tackler with 95 stops, including 45 solos and 50 assists. He registered 10.5 tackles for losses, three fumbles recovered and one highlight reel interception vs Texas A&M. Reports are that he received a second-round grade from the NFL. Some say that he’d like to return for his senior year but that family members are strongly encouraging him to enter the draft. We’ll know for sure soon.

Landon Collins’ touching message
to fans and coaches
My letter to my teammates, coach Saban, the UA coaching staff, the University of Alabama and all the Roll Tide Fans.
I can’t put into words what these past three years have meant to me not only in my development as a football player but even more importantly as a man. I came in as a 18 year old boy who wanted nothing more than to play for Coach Saban and wear the prestigious “A” on my helmet. Coach Saban along with all the other coaches at Bama have not only mentored me on the field but also showed me the tools I would need to succeed in life outside of football. Hard work, dedication and discipline are not only words in a dictionary but the actual way of life taught to me during my time at the University of Alabama. I can honestly say I am a better man after spending the last 3 years in Tuscaloosa.
Now that the time has come for me to take the next step in my journey I will dearly miss all my teammates who I sweat, cried and laughed with. I have no doubt it is true when they say the best time of your life is when you are playing college football and I wouldn’t have picked a different group of guys to spend that time with.
Lastly but certainly not least I want to thank all the Roll Tide fans that took a young man from New Orleans and took him in as one of their own. I fed off the passion you all showed every Saturday at the games and can’t start to thank you for enough being the BEST FANS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL!
Thank you all,
Landon Collins

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