THIBODAUX, La. — Brandon Harris … a role model for children?
Better believe it.
LSU’s third-year quarterback is well aware of his status among young Tigers fans, which is why he didn’t hesitate before agreeing to be a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy this summer.
Children — particularly those in Louisiana — admire Harris the same way that LSU’s signal-caller admires Archie Manning, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning. So getting a chance to return the favor was an opportunity that Harris couldn’t afford to pass up.
“I would have freaked out if I was in ninth or 10th grade if Peyton Manning would have given me one piece of information … if he would have said ‘it’ to me,” Harris said Friday at the Manning Passing Academy at Nicholls State University.
“Believe it or not, a lot of kids look up to me, so you want to be a role model. That’s my main objective. I feel like I can impact these kids’ lives. Coming out of high school and going into college, on campus Zach Mettenberger talked to me and I felt special. Now Zach is obviously in the NFL, and I see the same when I talk to the kids. They want to be the next Brandon Harris, and that’s important to me.”
It’s not very often that an LSU quarterback is represented at the nearby youth camp, so Harris relished the chance to make the trip in 2016.
In May, the quarterback received a phone number from a 504 area code that normally, he wouldn’t pick up. Harris made the exception — and is glad he did — because one of his own idols was on the other line to provide him with a unique opportunity that he did not foresee.
“First of all, I don’t answer numbers that aren’t saved in my phone, but it was a 504 area code, so I said maybe I should answer,” Harris explained. “I answered and he said, ‘Hey, this is Archie (Manning). Come to the camp, this and that. I don’t know the last time an LSU quarterback was here, but for it to be hosted in your backyard it’s a great opportunity for you to come.’
“I’m still shocked about it. I didn’t hesitate. Obviously, I asked when do I show up and when do I come. It’s a great opportunity to go out and do what I like to do, and that’s work with kids. Kids ask me questions that I would have asked if I was a kid.”
Questions were a big part of the camp for Harris, who embraced his time with campers who traveled to Thibodaux, La., from all across the country.
That comes with the turf of being a starting quarterback in the SEC, and it’s been a challenge that thus far, Harris hasn’t shied away from.
“It’s very unique because, you know, it’s a lot of kids,” Harris said. “There are kids from all over the country. From Iowa, Indiana, you name it, they’re from there. I came to his camp because it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to talk to great college quarterbacks, for them to see us and ask questions.”
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tigers Stadium.