Texas kicked off on Monday what could be a fruitful final few weeks of 2013 recruiting by picking up its first verbal commit since October.
The Longhorns have landed pledge No. 14 from Contra Costa (Calif.) College offensive lineman Desmond Harrison.
The three-star prospect chose Texas over Arizona State, USC, Oklahoma and offers from more than 20 schools.
“This feels real good,” Harrison said. “I feel like I just made the best decision. It was a tight decision. It really boiled down to Arizona State and Texas, and they really made it difficult. It just felt like Texas was the best for me.”
Harrison had been leaning toward choosing Texas for a while, but the final decision was tougher than he’d expected.
“It was a last-minute decision,” he said. “Everything came down to the end. I was still thinking about it today."
A 6-foot-8, 310-pound lineman who is being recruited to play left tackle, Harrison took an official visit to Texas on Dec. 7 and is the program’s second junior college pledge, joining Butte (Calif.) College tight end signee Geoff Swaim.
Harrison is in his second year at Contra Costa after playing his high school ball at Greensboro (N.C.) Page, but his Texas roots played a big factor in his commitment to UT. Harrison grew up in the Houston area and still has relatives in the state.
“It means a lot to be able to play there again,” Harrison said. “That’s going to be pretty special. I can’t wait to let them know.”
The chance to return to his first home swayed Harrison, and Texas coach Mack Brown and assistants Bo Davis and Stacy Searels won him and his mother over over during an in-home visit to Greensboro in early January.
“When I got the offer, I knew I could see myself playing for them,” he said. “I want to be close to home and win some big-time games.”
Harrison took all five of his official visits, hosted five home visits and ultimately passed up a chance to play with juco teammates Demetrius Cherry -- his best friend and roommate -- and Eriquel Florence at Arizona State.
Harrison, who is ranked No. 86 in the ESPN Junior College 100, is the fourth offensive lineman in the Longhorns’ No. 11-ranked class. Texas already has pledges from No. 1 ranked center Darius James, No. 3 tackle Jake Raulerson and No. 6 tackle Kent Perkins, though Raulerson is expected to begin his career on defense.
Texas has now landed only six junior college prospects since Mack Brown took over the program in 1998. Two of them – Donald Hawkins and Brandon Moore – started for Texas in 2012, and Harrison should push Hawkins for his spot in the lineup.
A former power forward who’s only been playing football for two and a half years, Harrison has three years to play two seasons of eligibility at Texas. He will graduate from Contra Costa in May and join the program this summer.
“I just want to dominate,” he said. “I’m going to try to dominate when I get there and play my game.”
He could be the first of several more commits on the offensive line for Texas before signing day on Feb. 6. Three-star offensive guard Rami Hammad (Irving, Texas/Irving) will announce his decision on Wednesday, and the Longhorns are one of three finalists for ESPN 300 two-way lineman Andrew Billings (Waco, Texas/Waco).