Was it an all-time great recruiting prank? Was it a classy statement aimed at reinforcing the traditional role of high school football? Who knows. Whatever it was, Todd Harris‘ Sunday afternoon press conference was a genuine scene stealer.
With much of the Baton Rouge area’s sports media in attendance, Plaquemine’s star defensive back — a four-star safety ranked among the top-10 prospects at his position in the country — was scheduled to announce whether he would attend hometown LSU, Alabama or Ole Miss. Instead, he used the occasion to ignore all three caps on the table in front of him in favor of a hat from Plaquemine High.
The stunt immediate sent shock waves across social media, with their crest following shortly thereafter when it emerged that Harris’ coach, Paul Distefano, was behind the stunt the entire time.
“Look, it was my idea,” Distefano told the Baton Rouge Advocate. “Please, I don’t want anybody taking shots at Todd, because I asked him to do it and he agreed. There’s so much going on with social media and recruiting. It can overshadow everything. Our deal was this: We want our guys to understand how fortunate they are to go to a school like Plaquemine High, where they have opportunities academically and athletically.
“Todd is very committed to Plaquemine High and always has been. Today was just a way to show that as we get focused on our season.”
The announcement was a way for Distefano to cement a stunt he orchestrated earlier Sunday, when he had every member of the team’s 2016 team sign a faux letter of intent committing to the squad for the fall season.
Yes, there were plenty on social media who were seemingly upset that Harris had made such a big deal about his “focus” on the field for his senior season. Others were apparently upset such a stunt arrived on the eve of training camps.
For his part, Harris made it clear he was happy to take part in the stunt as a way to put his school and team in a larger national focus.
“I didn’t have a problem with it,” Harris told the Advocate. “I wanted to put the team in the spotlight; that’s how I saw it. My focus is on Plaquemine High and this season.”
Harris’ focus may be firmly on Plaquemine, though there will be even more attention on his performance when everyone has eyes out for, ‘that kid who committed to his own school at a fake school ceremony.’ As for the school Harris does eventually settle on, LSU is considered a heavy favorite for his services, with Ole Miss and Mississippi State also potentially battling for his signature (yes, Alabama has offered, though their pursuit seems to be less convincing than others’).