Alabama Linebacker Open Despite Favorites

Harding Harper (Scout)

The Fighting Illini football team continues to recruit in distant locales. Linebacker Harding Harper is one of several Alabama products on the Illini recruiting list. While he may be favoring a couple other schools at the moment, he says Illinois is still under consideration.

Harding Harper is having a good senior season as a linebacker at Carver High School in Montgomery, Alabama.

"The season is going great. I've been making a lot more plays than I was expecting to, but that's a good thing. So I've been doing pretty well, and the team is too. There are a couple areas we can improve in, but overall we are doing pretty well."

Illinois is recruiting him, and from his description, he is the kind of player who would thrive in the Illini defensive scheme.

"I just bring that overall physicality and sideline-to-sideline speed to the defense. Not a lot of players on one side of the field can go all the way to the other side of the field to make a tackle, and I think I really bring that to the team. I'm a good leader also."

Harding considers speed and aggression as his best assets, but he also knows he needs to improve parts of his game.

"Leverage; I need to play lower. Sometimes I find myself playing too high, but my speed and size have made up for that. But I know when I get to the college level, there will be a lot bigger and faster guys, so I have to improve on that. I also will need to work on my understanding of the game."

Scout lists the 6'-2", 212 pounder a 3-star linebacker. While he supposedly favors Tennessee and Vanderbilt at this time, he is keeping his feelings close to the vest.

"Arkansas, Arkansas State, FIU, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Illinois, Memphis, Southern Miss, Southern Alabama, Tennessee and Vanderbilt have all offered. Everyone is still in play at this time, but I have a few teams I favor a little. Overall, though, everyone is still in play."

As long as he keeps things open, Illinois will continue to recruit him. He likes his recruiting coach.

"Coach (Chip) Long is recruiting me. From what I have talked with him on the phone about, he really seems like a good coach and a good guy. I like what he does, and that's important when looking at a coach."

He also has a favorable opinion of the Illini team after watching it on television.

"I saw them play once on Big Ten Network. They looked pretty good, and they have a good record. I liked how they played—like their game plan and that stuff."

The key for the Illini is getting him on campus for a visit. That may or may not happen.

"I don't have any official visits planned yet. There are a few coaches I have talked to about possibly watching a game, but I haven't scheduled any officials visits yet."

Despite the lack of visits, Harper hopes to make a decision in the near future.

"I don't know for sure when I will decide yet, but it is going to be really soon. I am trying to concentrate on football and school right now, and then I will worry about the decision after. But it should be coming pretty soon."

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