By LARRY VAUGHT
DeMarcus Harris plays in the biggest class (8-A) of Florida high school football, so obviously the Vero Beach receiver plays with and against quality players. His school has produced “a ton” of Division I receivers, according to Jon Santucci of the tcpalm.com, and Harris is another one.
The 6-2, 170-pound Harris had 43 catches for 1,001 yards and 11 scores in 2017 and verbally committed to Kentucky earlier this month when he picked the Cats over Syracuse, Indiana, Boston College, Cincinnati, Kansas and Purdue.
“He is a very good outside receiver. He’s big enough to go up and get it,” said Santucci. “He’s got a big body and he’s not afraid to go up in traffic and get the ball. He faced a lot of double teams last year and still made plays. He has good hands, good body control. He really came on at the end of last season and I can see him doing really good things at Kentucky.”
Santucci compares him to former Vero Beach receiver Michael Smith, who signed with Pittsburgh after making 24 touchdown catches his senior season in 2017.
“I just think he’s even a bit more polished than Smith,” Santucci said.
Harris had a touchdown catch last season when Vero Beach played the top team in Virginia. He also played well in other big games.
“It’s Florida, so he is going to see good cornerbacks every Friday night,” Santucci said. “Vero Beach had 15 kids sign (Division I scholarships) last year. It didn’t surprise me that he committed early because last year they had a couple of guys who waited too long and ended up placed lower than their talent level would suggest they should be. Recruiting has kind of shifted with the early signing period (in December) and he saw what happened with some teammates last year and I am sure he didn’t want that to happen to him.”
Harris, a three-star recruit, told Santucci he felt at home at UK and just knew it was the right place for him.
“His mom is an educator and wanted him somewhere with strong academics,” Santucci said. “His dad was in the Chicago White Sox organization as a first baseman for about four years.”
What impressed me is that tcpalm.com let Harris announce his commitment on its web page in his own words. Santucci said one of Harris’ teammates committed to Miami the same way last year and players have committed to Michigan, Auburn and other places the same way.
“For the top guys in our area, we give them that opportunity if they want it,” Santucci said. “We will do an interview, put his quotes in and send it to him. He was really easy. He said, ‘I love it. Don’t change it.’ He’s just that kind of easy-going kid and he’s incredibly smart.”
Santucci isn’t sure what UK’s receiving needs will be for 2019 or how Kentucky will use to predict how quick Harris will get on the field. However, he’s sure playing in the SEC will not overwhelm the Vero Beach standout.
“They play in front of 6,000 fans every Friday night at home,” Santucci said. “It’s one of the best atmospheres for high school football in the state, so he’s used to big stages and will be fine with that.”