North defensive back J.D. Harris had scholarship offers from five Football Championship Subdivision schools, but he really wanted to play for a Football Bowl Subdivision program.
So when Northern Illinois came through with an offer three weeks ago, Harris was intrigued. He visited the DeKalb, Illinois, campus Wednesday morning and committed to the Huskies before he left.
“I knew I wanted to play FBS,” Harris said. “I was holding out for that, and I just hadn’t found a school that I felt right. When I got on campus, and they said I had an opportunity to play as a freshman, I felt that was the right place.”
The FCS offers came from Indiana State, Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois, Eastern Kentucky and Southern Illinois. But all it took was one visit to Northern Illinois to know where he wanted to go.
Harris said his parents told him if he liked what he saw Wednesday, he should commit.
“They have a great business facility, and they have new dorms,” Harris said. “Their football field is nice, they have a really nice indoor facility and they have a really good coaching staff. They’re really good guys, and they want to win. When I left, I told them I wanted to be a Husky.”
The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Harris hopes to weigh around 175 by the time he begins college next fall. Northern Illinois has three senior cornerbacks who will be graduating, which could leave the door open for Harris to compete for playing time as a freshman.
Last fall, Harris led the Bull Dogs with five interceptions in earning Junior All-State honors from the Indiana Football Coaches Association. He also saw spot duty on offense, catching eight passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns.
“He was a ball hawk for sure,” North coach Tim Bless said. “He’s a great athlete, and we’ll use him more and more on offense and on special teams. The thing I’m most proud of with J.D. is the leadership that he’s taken on now that he’s become a veteran.”
The Bull Dogs went 9-2 last season, falling to eventual Class 6A state runner-up Center Grove in the sectional final.
Harris has some lofty goals for his senior year.
“The ultimate goal is to go get the state championship,” Harris said. “I want to break the state record for interceptions, and I want to be All-State again and I want to be in the running for Mr. Football.”
Name: J.D. Harris
High school: Columbus North
Year: Will be a senior
Position: Cornerback/wide receiver
Key stats: Led team with five interceptions, caught eight passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns.
College choice: Northern Illinois