Locking Down Harris

Cliff Harris

It's early, but the consensus best defensive back prospect in the West for 2009 is Cliff Harris, the 6-0, 165-pound cornerback from Freso (Calif.) Edison. With so many players having come out of that program, Harris told us about how he's getting recruited by Edison alumni...

Fresno (Calif.) Edison cornerback Cliff Harris (6-0, 165), the early top defensive back in the West in the class of 2009, is sitting on five scholarship offers, with two more schools looking like they could be offering soon.

"I just got an offer recently from Oregon, and I had already been offered by USC, Utah, Arizona and BYU," said Harris. "Washington State and UCLA are waiting on my SAT and once they get that, they said they're going to offer me. So I'm trying to get that scheduled (for April) so I can get the offers."

Harris said he was wide open at this point, and unlike his teammates, who have been known to commit early, he wants to go through the process and take some official visits.

"I don't really have a top five," said Harris. "I'm wide open at this point. I'd say that Oregon is recruiting me the hardest and they're showing me the most interest. But I'm not making any decisions until I take all of my official visits. We've had a lot of guys (at Fresno Edison) go through this process so I've gotten to see what it's been like."

Harris was part of a vaunted secondary last fall that featured Arizona-bound Robert Golden, Georgia Tech signee Brandon Leslie and USC commit T.J. McDonald. The year before, he bided his time on JV because Golden and UCLA freshman Courtney Viney manned the corner spots.

"I had to wait my turn behind Courtney and Rob that year, but I learned a lot watching them. They both helped me out to get ready for when it was my turn. Now they just talk to me about recruiting me," said Harris.

And both are making their pitches for the respective schools, along with McDonald, who's hoping his classmate will join him at USC.

"They're all trying to recruit me the hardest," said Harris. "Probably T.J. does it the most. Courtney calls me every now and then and he told me I'm supposed to be one of UCLA's top recruits. Rob keeps telling me Arizona is where I need to be. But they all know it's my decision."

Still Harris says he's thankful for the support those players have shown him.

"I give all of them the thanks for making me a better player," said Harris. "It all started with Ricky Manning and what he did. That opened more eyes and that gave me a better chance to get noticed. Coach (Tony) Perry was always telling me I could be the best if I worked at it."

In fact, the first time we heard about Harris was in the spring of his sophomore season, before he had started a game on varsity. Stuck on JV because of Viney and Golden, Harris was called up for the playoffs that fall, but still didn't see much action.

During the spring, though, Harris started to show why long-time Edison secondary coach Tony Perry said he would be the best defensive back to ever come out of Edison, high praise for a school known for their talent in the secondary.

Last spring, Harris was one of the top defensive backs at the Los Angeles Scout Combine, being the top defensive underclassmen there, and did the same at the L.A. Nike Camp. At the B2G Elite Program over the summer, he earned all-Sparta honors. Then at the U.S. Army National Combine, Harris was again named the top defensive back.

"I go to the camps that I'm invited to and I just try to shine," said Harris. "Watching Rob in the Army Game, that really helps motivate me a lot and then seeing how if I want to be one of the best and in the game, I need to keep working at it."

Last season, with teams trying to avoid throwing to Golden's side, they instead challenged Harris, and he responded with nine interceptions. He also returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown. Perry has said, too, that he could be a big-time receiver if he weren't so valuable in the secondary.

Perry said: "The thing with Cliff is he's so good with the ball in his hands, and he's just a playmaker. He could be an all-American at receiver if he wanted to be. But I've never had a corner who could lock down like him. And all the other guys, like Ricky and Courtney would tell you that."

Next weekend, Harris will join a contingent from Edison in Las Vegas for the New Level/Scout Pass Camp. He'll also return to the Scout.com Combine in May.

Academically, Harris has a 2.8 GPA.

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