Hey, Coach Pruitt.
It’s me again.
You might remember me from this summer, when my 9-year-old daughter wrote you a letter about how I made a deal with her that she could have a dog if Tennessee beats Alabama.
I put said letter on Twitter. It was cute, you know, and it kind of went viral. TV and radio stations wanted interviews with her. It got wild for a day.
Anyway, sorry about that, man.
That’s a lot of pressure on you now. Not only do you have the fan base’s hopes on your shoulders but now a little girl’s dreams of her first dog.
Good luck with that.
But let me make it up to you.
There’s a kid here in town that you need to know about, that you need to see.
He’s wowing everybody.
Yes, he’s already verbally committed. But you know that nowadays in the recruiting world a verbal commitment means about as much as “OK, diet starts tomorrow.”
For your sake, though, you should probably offer him — or re-evaluate him if you’ve given him a previous look. This is just Year 1 for you, and the last thing you need is another local kid going off and blowing up at a Power 5 school and the fan base coming to find out you all didn’t throw a scholarship his way.
So meet Karns senior wide receiver/defensive back Thomas Harper.
He has been unstoppable this season.
He gets open with ease.
He makes the difficult catch in traffic.
He’s reliable in the red zone and near the goal line.
He’s already got 731 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns through four games. He had 11 touchdowns last season to go with his 1,086 yards in 10 games.
I watched him play in Week 3 against West, which arguably has one of the top five defenses in East Tennessee, and Harper had 182 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
I said, the first half.
And by Karns coach Brad Taylor’s accounts, Harper is a great kid, who’s grounded, makes great grades, loves the weight room and puts in the extra work that most don’t.
“He’s not a prima donna, either,” said Taylor. “He’s an extremely hard worker. Eaten up with football. That’s really built his confidence. He feels like he can play with anybody. He’s a competitor and wants to win. He’s going to give you every single bit of what he’s got on Friday night.”
Added Taylor: “He’s really special with that 50-50 ball. You feel confident that, even if (quarterback) Daniel (Kitts) can’t throw it past a defender, Thomas can go up and make a play. And if you just give him a little space, he can make one guy miss and get the yards after the catch.”
Sounds good, huh?
Oklahoma State plans to use him at corner, I hear.
And, man, that West Virginia game proved Tennessee could use some depth in the secondary. Harper’s good there, too. He’s got 27 tackles, three pass deflections, a blocked field goal and caused a fumble this season.
What’s more, offering a local standout a scholarship means the world to that kid — and it takes all the pressure off you. If he still winds up signing with Oklahoma State, you can at least say, “Well, we offered him. But he’s got a brother who’s playing and doing really well at Oklahoma State, too, and he wanted to go there. We wish him the best.”
But don’t offer him? And he has a monster college career? That will linger around these parts, Coach.
You know how tired I get of hearing “Is he going to be another Randall Cobb?” every time a local recruit goes somewhere else besides Tennessee?
You don’t need that in your life.
So it’s fine that you haven’t responded yet to my daughter’s letter.
But hit someone up about Harper.