Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. In this edition, we catch up with major Auburn linebacker target Michael Harris, who has a big Ohio State visit ahead of him.
Breaking down the Ohio State roadblock for a top LB
AUBURN — Michael Harris, one of Auburn’s top linebacker targets in the 2018 class, doesn’t hide his love for Ohio State, something he fostered while spending the first four years of his life in the Buckeye State.
“They’ve been my heart since I was a youngin. I’m looking at them first regardless,” Harris said after Auburn’s Big Cat Weekend.
So Auburn fans, mark down an important date: June 17.
That’s when Harris, who now lives in Tucker, Ga., will go to Ohio State for the first time.
Despite his childhood interest, the nation’s No. 12-ranked inside linebacker hasn’t stepped foot on campus since becoming a star recruit. He speaks with the Ohio State staff on a fairly regular basis — and Urban Meyer has been especially gracious — but Harris wants to know if that remains constant when he goes north for his unofficial visit.
If he feels something different, that could be Auburn’s inside track to Harris’ commitment.
“I’m going to be looking to see if they have the same energy as the way they text me. They always update me with new stuff. They send me videos. Coach Meyer’s always telling me that I’m his type of guy. I’m a linebacker he needs. When I get up there on campus, I’ll see if they actually show me that love that they want me and [that he is] a part of their family already,” Harris said. “But if they don’t have that type of vibe or that link with me, it’s going to be a different look for other schools.”
Auburn gained another potential advantage just prior to Harris’ visit to the Plains over the weekend.
The No. 2 inside linebacker in the country made up his mind between Ohio State and Florida State on Friday. Teradja Mitchell committed to the Buckeyes, which filled one of Ohio State’s three to four linebacker spots. As Land of 10’s Jeremy Birmingham points out, the Buckeyes have a few linebackers ahead of Harris on their interest list.
So if Harris leaves Ohio on June 17 without committing, that will have to be a positive sign for Auburn.
“It doesn’t affect me because I truly feel I’m the best linebacker in the nation right now. But it can open other options for other schools,” Harris said. “That commitment can open other schools up for me.”
How Travis Williams keeps Auburn in mix
SEC Country Alabama reporter Chris Kirschner added an interesting tidbit. Harris reached out to the Ohio State staff after Mitchell’s commitment to congratulate them. He didn’t receive a return text.
That’s something he said would never happen with Auburn.
He communicates with Tigers linebackers coach Travis Williams on a daily basis. There isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t get the feeling that he’d be right at home with Williams and others at Auburn, which is something that has him weighing all his options.
“Coach T-Will checks with me every day. I send a text. He sends one right back. He treats me like I’m his own child,” Harris said. “After me texting coach T-Will, man, he gives me the same amount of love every time or even more. When I come visit — this is probably my third time visiting — every time I come, it’s more and more love. It’s like I’m always a part of the family. They already treat me like I’m a War Eagle, and I like that.”
Harris’ relationship with Williams extends to their in-person encounters, something he’s eager to see from the Ohio State coaches.
The 4-star linebacker praised Williams’ persona and called it the main reason why Auburn is making him think about his decision, even if he were to enjoy the Ohio State visit as much as he expects to.
“Coach T-Will is a great dude, a great guy. He brings a lot of energy toward you, just bumps everything up, makes everything 10 times better, hypes it up. I like the energy he brings,” Harris said.
Harris’ SAT/ACT plans also play into Auburn’s favor.
He said he doesn’t want to commit until after he has those qualifying scores finalized. It won’t be an issue, but it’s something he wants confirmed before he commits to a school. The chances that happens between now and June 17 aren’t likely, so there’s a strong possibility he returns to Georgia as an uncommitted prospect.
If others schools were to get into the mix, it’d be Alabama or Georgia who are weighing linebacker options of their own. But if those schools were to be considered, it would involve Harris pushing his commitment back from his preferred summer timetable.
“Ohio State and Auburn, that’s just the two teams I’d commit to before the summer,” he said.
Two Auburn coaches at star-studded satellite camp
It’s satellite camp season.
The offseason buzz isn’t what it was a year ago, but Jim Harbaugh’s brainchild is back for Year 2, and a few members of Auburn’s coaching staff are involved. Florida Atlantic, the new home of Lane Kiffin, hosted a south Florida satellite camp Monday that included coaches from Michigan, Tennessee, Southern Cal and others.
Add Auburn to that list. Auburn’s south Florida recruiting representatives Larry Porter and Greg Brown were two of the coaches in attendance.
Will anything valuable come from it?
Williams Barnes was the only confirmed prospect at the camp who Auburn is recruiting at a high level, but it’s possible a few more names will emerge based evaluations by Porter and Brown.
Miss an edition? Find the previous SEC Country Auburn Tigers recruiting notebooks right here.