Mark Harrell still feels like he has a lot to prove.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound offensive lineman from Charlotte, N.C., (Charlotte Catholic) compiled quite the offer sheet before giving his verbal commitment to Notre Dame back in May. But despite offers from schools like Auburn, Clemson, Michigan, North Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee and Virginia Tech among several others, Harrell hasn’t received much love from many of the recruiting sites. ESPN rates Harrell as a four-star prospect, but he’s listed as a three-star player by most other services.
Harrell will get a chance to prove himself next week, when he attends The Opening in Beaverton, Ore. The five-day Nike event will feature some of the nation’s elite 2012 prospects competing amongst each other and training with some top coaches.
“It’s going to be a bit of a challenge,” Harrell said of The Opening. “There are some really, really good guys out there. I was looking at that list and there are a lot of highly-rated guys out there, some big guys. I think it’s going to be a test. I just want to go and show what I’m made of. I feel like I have something to go out and prove. I feel like it’ll help me in the future because I’m not going to be playing against kids like that every Friday during my high school season.”
Harrell admitted being a bit surprised about receiving an invitation because he wasn’t able to participate in a Nike Football Training Camp back in May due to injury. Harrell ruptured a tendon in his foot during football season, but it wasn’t diagnosed until about a week before the training camp in Durham, N.C., on May 22nd.
“You had to go to that training camp to get an invite, but I was out with a ruptured tendon before I was able to do that,” he said. “It was nice to have them evaluate my film still. I sent it back into them and was like, ‘If you want to look at it, you can. If not, I understand.’ It’s nice to be considered one of the best. I know I’m not the highest-rated prospect at that camp. I’m probably one of the lower-rated linemen to be honest, but it’ll be fun to go out and try to prove something and see what I can do.”
“It’s going to be nice to get to know some of my teammates before I even step on campus with them,” said Harrell. “I’m going to get to see how they play and get to know them as people. They’re going to be my teammates for the next four to five years, so it’s going to be a lot of fun meeting them and spending four or five days with all of my teammates.”
While the Irish skill commitments are already thinking about the Nike swag they’ll pick up when they arrive in Oregon, Harrell isn’t expecting much.
“I know the 7-on-7 guys get all of that fancy stuff with customized jerseys and all of that stuff,” Harrell laughed. “The linemen, we’re padding up and just hitting each other.”
Harrell said he’s heard there will be some NFL players on hand, but hasn’t been told who.
“I don’t think they’re letting that secret out yet,” he said. “It’ll be really fun to be coached by them and spend some time with them.”
As far as recruiting goes, Harrell is glad he got his decision out of the way early.
“The multiple calls and letters from other schools have slowed down and I’ve gotten to enjoy my summer and kind of relax,” he said. “I’ve been able to do my workouts and focus on my high school season rather than which school I’m going to go to.
“It’s nice to get that behind me and know where I’m going and feel good about it. It’s definitely a relief and feels like the weight of the world is off my shoulders.”