Not every athlete travels the same path to his dream of playing Division I football. A handful of prospects in the 2006 class have already enrolled at their committed school. Most high school seniors will sign a letter of intent on national signing day and then head to campus this August to start their college careers.
Then there are others, like Bo Harris, who will have to wait a bit longer before they can suit up on the campus of the school they choose. Harris, who was a senior at Heritage High in Conyers, Georgia, for many reasons got a late start in realizing his full potential. He committed to Auburn and took his official visit this past weekend. Then, as soon as the visit was over, he jumped in the car and headed to upstate New York to enroll at Milford Academy to raise his grades.
The talented athlete, who was recruited by Auburn as a running back and will play that same position at Milford, didn't always realize the talent he possessed -- and that is what has put him in this situation.
"In my ninth and 10th grade years, I was just going to school to go to school," Harris said. "I was not going to do the work, I just wanted to play football."
"I was not planning on doing anything after high school. I was not planning on going to college and playing football."
The biggest change came in his junior year. Bo's mom, Phyllis, was a long-distance truck driver and would be gone for long periods of time, leaving Bo largely on his own. Midway through his junior season, his head coach, Al Pellegrino, offered to have Bo move in. Knowing he could concentrate more on school and less on taking care of himself, Bo accepted.
The coach and player formed a good friendship, and Pellegrino has had a big influence on Harris' life. It was coach Pellegrino who helped Harris land at Milford so he can prepare for Auburn. When you are a star player and you live with the head coach, naturally there will be some lighthearted ribbing from your buddies.
At practice, when Pellegrino wanted to talk to him, Harris said his teammates would say, "'your daddy is calling you,' instead of 'coach is calling you.'"
But it seems his teammates understood the situation and were just glad to still have him on the team. Harris, who is also a talented linebacker prospect, focused on offense alone his senior year and had a big impact on his team. Despite missing three early games, Harris still managed to rush for 1,128 yards and scored 19 touchdowns.
This year, his mom was able to land a local job, so Bo moved back in with her before heading to New York. He is looking at the experience as the 13th grade and a chance to do his senior year over again. Harris thinks it will be helpful.
"It will be a great experience for me to go out there and get used to being on my own," he said.
Milford will give him a chance to focus on academics and football. He said all he knows right now is that he will be going to class during the day and weight training at night. This will allow him to get his high school degree and enroll at Auburn in January 2007.
Scouts Inc.: What is your favorite NFL team?
Bo Harris: San Diego Chargers.
Scouts Inc.: Who is your favorite player, and do you use his play as a model?
Harris: LaDainian Tomlinson, and no -- I try and do my own thing
Scouts Inc.: What is it about your position that you love?
Scouts Inc.: Favorite meal?
Harris: I like all of them, but it would probably be pork chops and mac and cheese.
Scouts Inc.: Favorite subject?
Harris: Math, I'm good with numbers.
Scouts Inc.: Favorite musical artist/band?
Harris: Lil' Wayne.
Craig Haubert is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc.