University of Miami junior cornerback Brandon Harris has decided to forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
"I have decided I will declare for the draft this year in 2011," said Harris, 20, who started 13 games this season and had 44 tackles, a team-leading 10 pass breakups and 1 interception. ‘‘It's been a very long season. It has been very draining."
Harris, projected by Scout.Inc as the 32nd best overall prospect (currently the last pick in the first round), said the NFL draft advisory board told him "some good things and what I wanted to hear. I'd rather not get into the particulars, but I felt I was in a good position at that point.
"It was definitely a long process and you want to make sure you feel comfortable with what you're doing because this is a decision that will affect the rest of your life.
"After talking to my family and talking to my mom and my dad and my brother, we just felt like as a family, we weighed the pros and cons of staying and leaving. I just decided it was in my best interest to take this great opportunity I have in front of me and pursue my career at the next level.
"The overriding factor was being able to live out my dream. I've always wanted to play in the National Football League since I was a child. To be this close in the process, it was just something I couldn't turn down.
"I met with Coach [Al] Golden and his staff [Monday] afternoon and after speaking with them, everything else was history. That was it. I came to the conclusion it was a good decision. To see how supportive he and his staff were, they told me they'd continue to be there for me throughout the process.
"He's a very nice guy. We both handled it like men, and handled it like professionals. He's been in this kind of situation before and it was not a huge surprise for him."
Harris said he also consulted with former UM coach Randy Shannon and told him "how much the decision meant to me. He knew it was a huge decision for me. He never tried to sway me one or the other because that's not the type of guy he is."
Harris, the Miami Herald's Athlete of the Year in Miami-Dade when he was a junior and senior at Miami Booker T. Washington High, said he was "excited but also nervous. I'm spending a lot of time with my teammates and they're very excited for me. I'm nervous to be leaving them because I love them and know them so well."
> Harris father, Tim Sr., was told Monday by Al Golden he can remain on staff as a community liason. The former USA Today High School Coach of the Year woul eventually like to get back into coaching, though.
"I'm going to stay here for now," Harris Sr. said. "But the goal for me eventually is to be in a position to coach. I'm going to try to wait my turn. But I like to develop young people and I can't get that out of my blood."
- SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
AND MANNY NAVARRO