Sports

Harris heading to Washington

By CASEY OLSON

Sports editor

Darin Harris will continue to wear gold the next four years.

The Decatur High School senior verbally committed to play football for Keith Gilbertson at the University of Washington last week. Harris, a quarterback/defensive back for the Gators, called the Husky coaching staff after their Oct. 11 loss to the University of Nevada to let them know about his decision. But Harris was told by Washington coaches to keep his commitment under wraps until they tied up some loose ends. The UW staff notified Harris Thursday night that he could make his future plans public.

“I’m pretty excited,” Harris said after Friday night’s 45-13 thrashing of Federal Way. “I always wanted to stay home.”

Harris had offers from Oregon State and Colorado, but said Washington was where he wanted to be. He becomes the ninth commitment, and the seventh from the state of Washington, in Gilbertson’s first recruiting class as head coach. Harris will officially sign his national Letter of Intent in February.

“He is a big-time athlete,” said Kim Grinolds, editor of the Dawgman.com Web site, which is dedicated to Husky athletics. “None of his numbers really jump out at you, but he is just a solid football player.”

Harris hasn’t taken an official visit to the University of Washington yet. The Huskies don’t offer visits during the football season, unlike other football programs around the country.

“Schools that don’t have anything else going for them bring in players during the season to sell the atmosphere,” Grinolds said. “Oregon, Washington State and Norman, Oklahoma want to sell the game day experience because what the hell else is there to do there? They are just selling six days a year.”

“I’ll go (on a visit) if they want me to,” Harris said.

Harris was outstanding last year on the offensive side of the ball in coach Rik Haines’ veer offense. As a junior, he was responsible for 1,853 yards of total offense for the 6-3 Gators. Harris carried the ball 155 times for 1,238 yards and 14 touchdowns — averaging 137 yards per game. Through the air, Harris completed 36 of 73 passes for 618 yards and five touchdowns and was recognized by SPSL coaches as the All-Purpose Player of the Year and was also the Mirror’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2002.

This year has been a little more of a struggle for Harris on the offensive side of the ball. The 5-11, 200-pounder suffered an Achilles’ tendon strain in the third week of the season and is just getting back to full strength.

But, it doesn’t look like Harris will be taking snaps in the Huskies’ offense.

“I am probably going to play defensive back,” Harris said. “My dad called them and that is what they said.”

The Huskies also have a long line of quarterbacks ready to take over for Cody Pickett next season, including Isaiah Stanbeck, Kentwood grad Carl Bonnell and the possibility of Woodinville High School senior Matt Tuiasosopo enrolling at the UW.

“If he goes into camp as a defensive back, that line is a lot shorter than quarterback,” Grinolds said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. I don’t think he is a Pac-10 quarterback, but I think he is a big-time Pac-10 safety.”

There was a little controversy surrounding Harris’ commitment to the Huskies emanating from the tangled world of the Internet. The ever-expanding recruiting Web sites have been known to jump the gun on who is going where. A recruiting site reported two weeks ago that Harris was heading to the UW — before his verbal commitment was official. But everything worked out in the end, Harris said.

“I don’t even look at the Internet. My computer is broken.”

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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