KNOXVILLE -- One day after top in-state recruit Jalen Ramsey chose the University of Southern California over the Vols, UT struck back by picking up a commitment from receiver Paul Harris of Upper Marlboro, Md.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Harris picked the Vols over an impressive offer list that included USC, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Ohio State and South Carolina. Picking the Vols over the Trojans was the toughest – and most surprising – aspect of Harris’ decision.
"I feel like everyone's dream growing up is to play at USC one day, and to have that opportunity and turn it down… it wasn't easy," Harris told MDHigh.com. "But I felt like when I went out there to visit, I was almost getting too caught up in the hype of the school. I prayed about it, and in the end I just had this feeling like Tennessee was the better fit. It's hard to really explain, but I know I have to be at Tennessee."
Harris is rated as a three-star prospect by ESPN.com and Scout.com. Rivals.com gives Harris a four-star ranking and lists him as the No. 214 player in the nation.
The addition of Harris continues the Vols’ trend of recruiting tall and lanky wide receivers. Cordarrelle Patterson (6-4), Jason Croom (6-5), Justin Hunter (6-4), Matt Milton (6-6) and Da’Rick Rogers (6-3) are among the receivers that have signed in coach Derek Dooley’s tenure.
“Harris is a wonderful looking player physically and shows flashes of becoming a playmaker in time,” ESPN.com wrote in a scouting report. “He is long and lean with deceptive strength to pull the ball away from defenders. Has a wide catch radius and is generally used on underneath and deep routes.”
Though wide receiver is the Vols’ strongest position heading into 2012, the unit could be depleted after the season if juniors Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers leave for the NFL draft. Dooley signed four receivers in the 2012 class and now has three wide receiver commitments for 2013 – Harris, Camion Patrick and Josh Smith.