Safety Todd Harris revealed his true colors Wednesday morning. And the crowd in the Plaquemine High School gym erupted when it saw LSU’s purple and gold.
“To be honest with you, this is a dream come true. I’m ready to work,” Harris said after the cheers died down and the ESPNU live broadcast of his choice ended. “I’m ready to get started.”
After losing two other top local players — linebackers Christopher Allen and Dylan Moses — to Alabama, there was good news on the home recruiting front for the Tigers in coach Ed Orgeron’s first recruiting class.
Harris, rated No. 11 nationally at his position, stayed true to his word by not announcing his college choice until national signing day. As it turns out, he also was true to the school he grew up loving.
“When Todd was 6 years old, he came to us and wanted to paint his bedroom purple and gold,” said Harris’ mother, Terri. “We told him no. Then there was a time when he got some LSU stickers. He put them on the floor leading right up to his bed.”
Harris’ recruiting process mirrored his approach to his career. It was mapped out.
He took official visits to LSU, Alabama, TCU and Arizona State. Before his junior season, the Harrises went on unofficial visits to LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Louisiana-Lafayette — part of an educational process, said his mother, the principal at North Iberville Elementary.
“I wanted Todd to be able to see what it is like on a Saturday at those schools,” Terri Harris said. “It was important for him to have a feel for that.”
The official visits didn’t come until after Plaquemine advanced to the Class 4A nonselect state quarterfinals. After the visits were over, the other process began. The family sat down and talked several times a week about his choices.
Some advice his parents gave him came into play and, by Monday, he called the other three finalists to tell them LSU was his choice.
“Todd had wonderful choices," Terri Harris said. "The academics and basically everything else was equal. But at the end of the day, I reminded him that football games are one day a week and only in the fall. I told him he needed to go where he would feel the comfortable every day, not just on game days.”
Added his father, Todd Harris Sr.: “We wanted what Todd wanted, and we wanted him to go where he thought he will fit in best. And that was LSU.”
The scene was quite a contrast from six months earlier. Recruiting experts and fans were furious when Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano orchestrated an elaborate plan that called for Harris to commit to his high school team instead of a college.
It was an attention-getter. What was dismissed as a joke and a prank by those desperate for recruiting news missed the point of who Harris is. Harris’ parents recall his route from being a freshman on the bench to being a starter. Being there — his team — was most important, he told them.
A three-time All-Metro selection by The Advocate, Harris was a two-time Class 4A all-state player who was voted Defensive MVP of All-Metro team last fall. Harris had 66 tackles, 25 assists, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.
“I feel like we take football a little differently in Louisiana,” Harris said. “I grew up loving LSU. It’s home.”
Harris was not the only Plaquemine player with a signing-day surprise. Running back Kevin Dominique committed to Army in December but wound up signing with Ball State.
Offensive lineman Abraham Delfin (Army) and defensive back Trey Williams (Northwestern State) also signed.