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Will Jedrick Wills follow Damien Harris to Alabama? - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

Will Jedrick Wills follow Damien Harris to Alabama?

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By LARRY VAUGHT

Lafayette four-star offensive lineman Jedrick Wills could announce his college choice any day. Obviously, he's been a huge Kentucky recruiting target, but Alabama and Notre Dame have both  made significant pushes for Wills.

Many now expect that he will pick Alabama over UK even though former Lafayette teammate Landon Young is at UK and current Lafayette quarterback Walker Wood has verbally committed to Kentucky as well.

But Wills might also look at what former Madison Southern running back Damien Harris did. He got his choices down to Kentucky, Ohio State and Alabama and then picked the Crimson Tide. He was a reserve running back and special teams player on last year's national championship team as a freshman and is competing for a starting job this season.

Madison Southern coach Jon Clark knows many UK fans were disappointed when Harris picked Alabama -- just like they will be if Wills does the same -- but the coach says Harris had to do what was best for him.

"When you are as good of an athlete and have as much potential as he did, there are two ways to go. Either try to go somewhere that will prepare you for the NFL or you are going to go somewhere for a college experience. There was no doubt Alabama was the best place. If you make it there, you go to the league (NFL)," Clark said.

"And if you don't, then you don't make it there. It was a place that was going to make him grow up at that position to prepare him for the NFL. There was no doubt it was best for him."

Harris rushed for a game-high 114 yards on 20 carries in Alabama's spring game. He's expected to combine with Bo Scarbrough to pick up the slack left by the departure of running backs Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake off the national championship team.

Even though Harris has yet to start a game, he was named on the preseason Doak Walker Watch List (the award goes to the nation's best running back). That backs up what Clark says about the image Alabama running backs have.

Clark said he didn't pay attention to those who wondered if Harris had the ability to play at Alabama.

"Sure there were people who were going to be upset. But here's the deal. When you are a kid like that and potentially sitting on a lottery ticket with his ability, he has to do what is best for him," Clark said. "We supported him 100 percent to make the choice that was best for him, not everybody else. The fans are not the ones putting their career on the line. It's not about them. It is about what is best for him."

Well, what about those who feel Harris led Kentucky on by attending games and practices so often and then going to Alabama?

"That was not the case at all. He was legitimately torn. He wanted to stay home. A big part of him wanted to be that hometown guy. I think what he was torn on was there was a lot of what ifs and maybe at that point with Kentucky and Alabama was a sure thing. That was the hard thing for him," Clark said.

"It does irritate me when people say that (he led UK on). He was down to those two and Ohio State at the end. I think it was more of a Kentucky-Alabama decision at that point.

"He is probably one of the bigger Kentucky basketball fans that exists, too, and he loved the way that Kentucky loved him. He loved going to games. He loved the staff. He had a good relationship with the staff. I honestly think if the staff had not recruited him the way they did and if the fans had not loved him the way they did, I don't even know if Kentucky would have been considered. 

"The fact he did weigh Kentucky so heavy was a testament to how they recruited him. They did a great job with him. At the end of the day, though, there was a lot of unknowns if he went to UK."

Fair point. It could be the same with Wills. Young, Wood and Henry Clay's Davonte Robinson, a freshman at UK, all wanted to stay home and play for UK. But not everybody feels the same way and that's fine. Some players see better opportunities like Harris did. Some just want to leave home like Boyle County's Lamar Dawson did when he picked USC over UK.

So if Wills does pick Alabama, don't question his loyalty or UK coach Mark Stoops' recruiting. Every player has to do what he feels is best and Stoops has had more recruiting success than any  UK coach in recent history. However, that doesn't mean Stoops is going to get every in-state star or that those in-state stars who do choose another school are doing anything disloyal. It's just part of the recruiting game.
 

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