Harper close to a decision?

Harding Harper

Tennessee football's three-day camp this week has turned the heads of numerous high school prospects. Sign in or subscribe now to see what linebacker Harding Harper told new InsideTennessee.com recruiting analyst Danny Parker what he thought about Rocky Top.

If you build it, he will come.

In the 1989 film Field of Dreams, lead actor Kevin Costner's character Ray Kinsella is compelled to build a baseball field for the memory of his father.

In the cut-throat world of Southeastern Conference football, programs are constantly trying to one-up one another, especially when it comes to constructing bigger and better facilities.

Tennessee football already has one of the finest homes around for practice with its Football Training Center, but it is being expanded into a 145,000-square foot building that contains a 22,000-square foot, multi-level weight room.

While construction isn't expected to be completed until late summer or early fall of 2012, the vision of what's to come is already having an impact on recruiting.

Just ask linebacker prospect Harding Harper out of G.W. Carver Senior High School in Montgomery, Ala., who recently thrust the Volunteers to the top of his list of favorite schools.

"It was the facilities that really got me," Harper said. "Then, you know, great football players and great coaching staff. That was big stuff for me too.

"The indoor facility was the main thing that blew me away. They said they are going to build a new one, and, I mean, I don't really see how they can renovate it. It was nice."

Harper, rated a three-star and the No. 17 middle linebacker in the country by Scout.com, was in Knoxville this week to check out a portion of Tennessee's three-day camp for high schoolers and headed out of town thoroughly impressed.

"Things went good," he said. "They told me things I need to work on. They told me I look real good on film.

"They had me in the middle pretty much all day. I'm pretty sure they need a Mike linebacker, but I know I can play outside too because of my great speed. I could play in the open field."

Harper said his primary recruiter is linebackers coach Peter Sirmon, who continues to be a name brought up by more than a few prospects that are showing interest in the Vols.

"We get along well," Harper said.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder wants to make another trip to Tennessee once the season gets underway, although he said he plans to commit to a school soon. Harper is also milling over scholarship offers from Arkansas, Arkansas State and Vanderbilt as well as UT.

"I'm about 85 percent sure I'm going to come up here for a game," Harper said. "So, when I do that, I am going to try to get a full conversation with (Tennessee coach Derek Dooley) one on one. I didn't really get much one-on-one time with him today."

The State of Alabama takes college football as seriously as any other in the country. Leaving town to give your all for a rival school is oftentimes frowned upon. Should Harper choose to sign with Tennessee, he admitted his is prepared to deal with the naysayers.

"There's always those couple of voices that say 'You should have did this, should have done that,' but at the end of the day it's always a business decision," he said.

Carver eliminated Auburn in the first round of the AHSAA Class 6A state playoffs last November before falling to Stanhope Elmore 20-15. Harper's team opens its season at home against Opelika on Aug. 26.

Construction continues on the expansion of the Football Training Center.

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