Wide receiver Paul Harris down to USC and Tennessee

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The SPARQ testing that marked the start of three days of action at The Opening was an event dominated by skill position players putting up impressive times. Despite a few complaints about slow turf, everybody was generally happy with their laser-recorded time at Nike headquarters. 

One player who seemed a bit disappointed was Upper Marlboro (Md.) wide receiver Paul Harris, who ran a solid time but is the type who will never be happy unless his name ends up on the top of the leader board.

 "It was a bad day," Harris said Friday afternoon. "It's no excuse, but my hamstring hurts a little bit."

The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder holds offers from programs across the country but came out to Oregon not to fret about his recruitment but to prepare himself physically and mentally for the next level by improving at his craft.

"I just wanted to compete and show everybody that I'm the best at wide receiver," he said. "I want to show everybody that I have room to get better too. I don't want to be the best and that just be at the high school level. I don't want people to think I've reached my peak. I want them to think, 'Wow, he's really good and he has room to grow too.'"

Although five-star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves was among the players who suffered an injury early on, there are still several top corners Harris is looking forward to lining up against but is open to anybody who thinks they can shut him down.

"Anybody," Harris said. "I do want to go up against Kendall Fuller; he's a good friend of mine from back home. Anybody who's in front of me, though, I've just got to treat them like I don't know them."

Harris is on the tail end of his recruitment at the moment, looking to make a commitment by the end of July or early August. After narrowing down his list of 25-plus offers, the talented wideout is finally down to two.

"It's leaning toward USC and then second is Tennessee," he said. "I don't know about Tennessee because I'm hearing a lot 'ifs, ands and buts' about whether their coaching staff is going to stay or not. I don't really know, but I'm leaning toward USC.

"I talked with Coach (Lane) Kiffin last week and went up there last week and really loved it. I was tempted to commit while I was up there, but I'm going to wait it out. I'm going to see when I go back home and talk to my mom and dad. I might commit later this month or next month."

The Trojans have more commitments than any other school at The Opening, including three players listed at wide receiver. With limited scholarships for the program this year and several players at his position, Harris knows there will be competition if he picks USC, but that isn't holding him back from pledging if that is the school for him.

"No, if I let it factor into my decision then they wouldn't be recruiting me," he said. "Coach (Tee) Martin told me he didn't want to recruit me if I didn't want to play as a freshman. Everybody knows they have two receivers committed, but they also have an athlete that people thought he was a wide receiver. They still have room for me. They're still recruiting me and want me to be a Trojan, so I don't think that factors into my decision."

The Volunteers are still in the running at this point, and despite the shaky ground under the coaching staff's feet, Harris enjoyed his time at the school on an unofficial visit enough to value what the program has to offer.

"I loved it down there; I could really see myself playing there," he said. "I think I can be a part of what they have down there. They say you're a Vol for life, and that sounds good to me. That's why they're still up there."

Harris added he is leaning toward making a final decision public by the final weekend in July.

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