After a disappointing 7-6 season, which resulted in the firing of head coach Randy Shannon, the Hurricanes received some tough news on Tuesday.
Two-time All-ACC cornerback Brandon Harris will forego his senior season of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft.
“I’ve done a lot of thinking, going over it with my family and I got some advice for some former coaches, people who have been involved with me closely and I just decided that it was just time for me to declare for this year‘s NFL Draft,” Harris announced to InsideTheU Tuesday morning.
Harris finished seventh on the team with 45 tackles this past season. He also had one interception, two forced fumbles, and nine pass break-ups en route to second-team all-conference honors.
He received an encouraging grade from the NFL Draft advisory committee prior to the Sun Bowl that he was satisfied with.
“The committed told me some great things after they evaluated my film,” Harris said. “The position I was in it was kind of the point that it was hard to turn down. I’ve worked my butt off to get to this point, I did everything I could possibly do to set myself up to be in this position one day. Now that I am actually here, it’s time to take that next step, and see where I can go from here.”
The decision was tough for Harris.
“It’s been very tough,” he said. “I never really thought about it until after the bowl game. I knew things would come up and things moved very fast. Just talked to my teammates the first couple of days when we got back feeling out their opinions on it, they were always very supportive, I sought out approval from those guys and when they thought that it was the right thing to do also and I felt that it was the right thing in my heart, that made it a lot easier. It’s still going to be tough to deal with when guys are returning with workouts and I’m not involved with that, it’s going to be a little different, but everybody understands the process.”
Harris met with head coach Al Golden, defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio and defensive backs coach Paul Williams on Monday to discuss the possibility of leaving early.
“We had a long talk of the pros and cons going either way,” Harris said. “They accepted my decision and they were very supportive. They promise that will be supportive throughout the whole training and draft process.”
Harris is very close to graduating from UM as he only needs two more classes to graduate. He is meeting with the UM academic staff later today to discuss a plan for him to receive his college degree.
He plans to train for April’s draft near Miami, but has yet to name an agent although he plans to do so before Friday.
The loss of Harris provides a huge need at cornerback. Only Brandon McGee (17 tackles in 21 games) has any experience at the position. McGee has been up and down in his first two years at UM.
It is uncertain if other juniors Sean Spence and Travis Benjamin will return for their senior seasons as well. Harris, Spence, and Benjamin have a good relationship, which could affect their decisions.
“I’m not 100 percent sure what they are going to do, but when I talked to them both of the were confident that they were coming back next year and they are excited about the season next year,” Harris said.
Harris earned All-American honors as a sophomore as he was second nationally with 15 pass-breakups. He also had two interceptions in his first year as a full-time starter. In his career, he has 130 tackles and four interceptions in 39 games.
Harris came to Miami as a highly-regarded recruit out of Booker T. Washington where he helped lead the Tornadoes to a Class 4A state title as a senior in 2007.
“I’m very excited for the NFL,” he said. “As a child in elementary school when you’re raising your hand and everybody is asking what you want to be when you grow up. You might joke and say you want to be a basketball or football player, everybody looks at you and knows that it’s so far away. But looking at this now and that my lifelong dream can be reached in a matter of couple months, it’s very exciting.”