He was the talk of The Opening on July 2.
After turning heads by picking off four passes (returning three for touchdowns) and making four pass breakups, five-star cornerback and Ohio State target AJ Harris has seen his already high stock reach new heights.
Harris, the No. 21st-ranked player nationally in the class of 2023 and the No. 3 cornerback per 247Sports’ composite rankings, told Eleven Warriors at the event he may commit to the school of his choosing by the end of July.
“There could most definitely be something coming soon,” the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Harris said at The Opening in Manhattan Beach, California.
But according to his father, Daniel Harris, a commitment from Harris may be more likely to come in the fall rather than this month.
“It’s already kind of out there, AJ is kind of ready to put this to bed,” the elder Harris told Eleven Warriors on Sunday. “If I had to guess, he may commit sometime during his junior season. The only reason he would wait longer is if we want to see the 2022 defensive back classes for all of the schools that are really in his top five. You know, he put out his top 13, but really as a family we kind of know the top five … He may commit (this fall). Between October and December, he’ll probably know.”
When the recruiting dead period was lifted in June, the Harris family used the month to travel to camps at Clemson, Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Auburn. Before visiting those campuses, AJ gave his father a list of 10 schools he’d like to see in June, then the pair narrowed it down to seven. After spending weeks traveling to different parts of the country, AJ wanted to take a break and focus on practicing with Glenwood High School (Phenix City, Ala.) and preparing for Nike's The Opening.
Daniel told Eleven Warriors once the current recruiting dead period lifts in late July, the two will focus on visiting the schools AJ wanted to see but didn’t get a chance to. Virginia Tech was the seventh school on the June docket, but since the family never made the trip to campus, a visit to Blacksburg is likely in the cards for late July. The elder Harris said they may also visit Florida and LSU.
“To be honest at this point, that’ll be it (for seeing new schools),” Daniel said. “Moving forward, to be honest, I’m going to talk to him and see ‘Where do you really want to go at the end of July?’ He’ll let me know, and I’ll go ahead and work the logistics of it. We’ll see two, definitely no more than three schools at the end of July. Then we’ll look at the college schedules to see what games we want to get to (this fall).”
Although he resides in Phenix City, Alabama, which is located about five minutes from the Georgia state border, the younger Harris doesn’t have any emotional ties to SEC schools such as Alabama, Georgia or Auburn. AJ spent about the first eight years of his life in Germany because of his father’s military service, then resided in California for a time before Daniel was stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia in 2012. If anything, any emotional investment would be to schools in the Midwest, seeing as Daniel grew up in Gary, Indiana, which sits about 30 miles outside of Chicago.
“We did not get the Indiana Hoosiers, the Indiana Pacers,” Daniel said. “We got the Chicago Bulls, Notre Dame football and the Chicago Bears. So I grew up a Notre Dame fan. Really, if anything, AJ was being force-fed Notre Dame games on Saturdays. Definitely (didn’t grow up) an Alabama Crimson Tide fan.”
As far as Ohio State is concerned, the Buckeyes remain in great standing with Harris. Both Daniel and AJ have already determined they will attend OSU’s home opener against Oregon in September, as well as take in games at Georgia, Alabama and Clemson later that fall. The elder Harris said his son bonded with other defensive backs with ties to Ohio State while at The Opening, including 2022 commit C.J. Hicks and 2022 target Xavier Nwankpa.
“Those relationships matter,” Daniel said. “AJ really fell in love with C.J. Hicks and (Xavier) at The Opening. We’re watching to see where (Xavier) is going to go. Is it Notre Dame, is it Ohio State? AJ is very much a relationship type of person, so getting with those guys at The Opening, that was big.”
Ohio State has yet to land a commitment for any position for the class of 2023, but Harris is one of five priority targets for Ryan Day and the Buckeye coaching staff.
“He’s already told me, ‘Dad, I don’t need to play the game. I know if I take my father on official visits we’ll be treated like royalty, and that would be nice to experience, but I really don’t need that because I’m very content to be treated like royalty by the team I’m going to commit to,’” Daniel said. “Sometime between now and December, I think he definitely will be committed.”
In his sophomore season with Glenwood, AJ scored eight special teams touchdowns and recorded two pick-sixes to go with two rushing touchdowns and three receiving scores. He had 28 total tackles, four interceptions and two tackles for loss.
Nelson to commit Sunday
One of the top quarterback prospects in 2023 will make a commitment Sunday.
Malachi Nelson, a five-star quarterback ranked the fifth-best player and the second-best quarterback in the class of 2023 according to 247Sports’ composite rankings, unveiled a list of seven teams in the running for the services of the gunslinging quarterback.
July 18th pic.twitter.com/vGA2OmKCu0— Malachi Nelson (@MalachiNelson9) July 11, 2021
Ohio State was on the list, along with Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Notre Dame and USC. It’s unlikely Nelson winds up in Columbus, considering 2022 commit Quinn Ewers already has been billed as the quarterback of the future for the Buckeyes. Three 247Sports analysts have given a crystal ball prediction that Nelson winds up with Oklahoma. In an interview with 247Sports, Nelson broke down all seven of his potential destinations, including Ohio State.
“Ohio State is a powerhouse program and do a great job with quarterbacks. I actually visited back in eighth grade and loved it there. I wanted to make it back for a game or in the spring or summer but was never able to. I have a lot of respect for how they do things there and just what kind of football program they have. Coach Day is a great guy and a great offensive mind and I like coach Dennis a lot too. Justin Fields was one of my favorite quarterbacks to watch and he said I actually remind him a little of Justin so that was a big compliment.”
Kane to make unofficial visit
Another 2023 target, Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.) defensive back Moussa Kane, will take an unofficial visit to Ohio State later this month.
Kane will come to campus July 28 for an unofficial visit and will also visit Notre Dame on July 27 and Boston College on July 30. The 6-foot-1, 176-pound prospect is not ranked in 247Sports’ composite rankings but is ranked No. 298 in ESPN’s top 300 for the class of 2023.
Blair Academy did not play football in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kane boasts a 37-inch vertical leap and is said to have close ties to former Ohio State defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley, who is now the head coach at Boston College.