LSU quarterback Brandon Harris decided to jump ship now. The final decision was not a surprise, but the timing was. Many ask why did he announce his plans to leave in mid-February?
Well, as far back as early November, I have been convinced that Harris would not be wearing the Purple and Gold in 2017. He had just made a statement in January that he was returning though. One reason was allowing him to graduate in spring, use the team facilities and survey the land as to which other schools need a “free agent” college quarterback, the latest trend in college football.
Harris would also keep his arm limber and his body in shape in his current program by keeping his plans under wraps. His decision did not have to be made now. Early summer would have been quite sufficient. I’m not sure the LSU facilities will be available will be to him as an ex-player.
I wrote a few months back that I expected two current LSU quarterbacks to seek a release. Brandon Harris was one of those that I had in mind.
When spring training gets into full swing, I anticipate that the QB derby will be open in Baton Rouge, as incoming offensive coordinator Matt Canada stated it would be. Yet, the job is Danny Etling’s to lose. Lindsey Scott, Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse are going to get a long, hard look to be first choice for a “dual-threat” package I fully expect to be part of the attack plan in the fall.
When Harris, a 4 star recruit out of Parkway High in Bossier City and the nation’s No. 2 rated dual threat QB in his class, decided on the Tigers following the ’13 season, he had offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Arizona State, Nebraska, Auburn, Arkansas, Baylor, Houston, Tennessee, Ole Miss, UCLA, Texas A&M, Louisiana Tech and North Carolina.
I listed UNC last because word out of Tobacco Road says that there is mutual interest between the Tar Heels and Harris now.
North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora will have his work cut out for him this upcoming season. After finishing 8-5 in 2016 and dropping a 25-23 decision to Stanford in the Hyundai Sun Bowl, the Tar Heel staff will have to replace signalcaller Mitch Trubisky, who many think could be a top 5-10 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. They also will have to replace their top four rushers, four of the top five receivers and four of five starters from the offensive line.
The only quarterback on the UNC roster with any game experience is sophomore Nathan Elliott, who has only attempted nine passes and completed eight of them for 55 yards.
The job does seem wide open.
If he does land at North Carolina, Harris will still have a connection with his former coach, Les Miles, in an ironic twist. Manny Miles, Les’ son, arrived as a preferred walk-on in Chaple Hill in the 2015 class with the Tar Heels.
MICKEY MOMENT: Now back home in Louisiana as a wide receivers coach with the LSU Tigers, Mickey Joseph will recruit the New Orleans area heavily. It happens to be the place he dominated as a prep option quarterback three decades ago.
On the 1986 USA Today Prep All-American team…
QB Mickey Joseph (Archbishop Shaw and Nebraska)
RB Emmitt Smith (Escambia High, Florida and eventually Canton)
RB Ricky Watters (Harrisburg, Pa. to Notre Dame and a long NFL career)
A linebacker on that squad was Brother Martin’s Pat Stant, who headed to Tulane.