CHATTANOOGA — When the time came for Brendon Harris to narrow down his lengthy offer list and pick a school for college, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound safety kept coming back to one thing.
One school had been there from the beginning. One school had always delivered the same message. One school felt like home.
Harris committed to the Vols on Friday, as the Baylor School star picked UT over Clemson, Ohio State, Florida and others. The 4-star safety is now Tennessee’s 10th commit in the Class of 2018.
“Going through the recruiting process, visiting, getting to know the coaches, what stood out most to me was Tennessee’s loyalty,” Harris told Volquest.
“I can play early. I can learn a lot. They love me. I believe all that. It’s good for my family. They’ll be able to come to my games. I’ll just have fun at Tennessee.”
Harris has long been Tennessee’s top priority at safety, as UT coaches routinely delivered that message to the Top-100 prospect throughout the process. When Willie Martinez was fired in February, one of new secondary coach Charlton Warren’s first phone calls was to Harris.
“That made a big part in (my decision),” Harris said. “I like to hear that from them. They love me and I love Tennessee. I want to come in and make a difference.”
Harris visited a number of programs this spring, touring Tennessee, Clemson, Georgia and Florida to get a feel for the coaching staffs. Ohio State pushed hard for a visit, but ultimately, Harris found his future coach on Rocky Top.
The safety spent an April day observing Warren coaching Tennessee’s defensive backs, and Harris liked the new assistant’s approach, style and techniques.
“It’s a well-oiled practice, Harris said. “He’s a technical coach. I like that about him. … I liked the tempo.”
Before Harris works with Warren, though, he has some unfinished business at Baylor School. After two tough exits in the state playoffs, Harris hopes to lead the Red Raiders back to the state title.
“I’m really hyped for the season,” he said. “It’s my senior season. We’ve made it to the state semis two years in a row, so I know what it feels like. I know what he we have to do extra to pull it out this year.”
Former Tennessee star linebacker Eric Westmoreland, Baylor’s LB coach and co-defensive coordinator, expects Harris to lead the way for the Red Raiders in the fall.
“I just want to see him be a leader, to lead by example, which he does already,” Westmoreland said.
“But I want to see him take it to the next level and help these younger guys become better.”
In the meantime, Harris will put on his recruiting hat for the Vols, targeting in-state prospects like Greg Emerson, D’Andre Litaker and others. He plans on delivering the same message that Butch Jones & Co. told him throughout the process.
“Stay in state. Domin18. Do it with the people from our state. We have to protect it,” Harris said.
“I’ll definitely be on top of it. Even though we have a lot, we have to get more in-state guys. We have to get everybody we can. We have to load up."