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LSU signed quarterback Brandon Harris of Bossier City (La.) Parkway on Thursday to a financial-aid agreement, one of the first recruits nationally known to have used an NCAA rule interpretation issued last month that allows early-enrolling players to secure their scholarships months ahead of signing day.
Harris, No. 58 in the ESPN 300 and the third-ranked dual-threat QB in the class of 2014, announced the moment on Twitter, saying he was excited to sign a letter of intent with the Tigers.
#excited #letterofintent! #GeauxTigers pic.twitter.com/qpZmPkN3B1— B Harris (@bharrisqb1) November 7, 2013
He did not, in fact, sign a letter of intent. The differences are notable and fall in favor of the student-athlete.
LSU, after receiving Harris' paperwork, is now obligated to honor his scholarship, unlike the scenario for a traditional recruit who offers a non-binding verbal commitment; however, Harris is not tied to the Tigers. He could enroll elsewhere or sign a binding letter of intent with a different school in February.
Additionally, the Tigers are no longer limited by NCAA regulations that restrict in-person contact with Harris, phone calls and home visits.
"I told his dad, 'There is no downside for you,'" Parkway coach David Feaster said. "I thought this was a real good move by the NCAA."
Also on Thursday, Ohio State director of player personnel Mark Pantoni tweeted that athlete Curtis Samuel, 148th in the ESPN 300 out of Brooklyn (N.Y) Erasmus Hall, had signed an agreement with the Buckeyes.
Feaster said he was approached by LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron last Friday about the chance for Harris to sign early. Cameron told Feaster that LSU had recently learned of the possibility.
Feaster said the Tigers were in favor of committing a scholarship three months ahead of the norm to Harris, who pledged to LSU in July.
"We jumped on it," Feaster said. "When Brandon and I talked about it, he said, 'It's good with me. I don't have any plans to go anywhere else.' I told [Cameron] what Brandon told me, and he said they feel the exact same way.
"So why not do it?"
Feaster and Cameron also discussed that it could help the Tigers with remaining uncommitted players, especially in Louisiana, who notice that LSU has made this assurance to its quarterback recruit.
The option to sign a financial-aid agreement is available after Aug. 1 of a prospect's senior year to recruits who show the progress necessary to graduate in the middle of an academic year.
It does not establish an early signing period similar to basketball, long debated in the recruiting community.
Parkway held a ceremony on Thursday at the high school similar to what it does for signing day, Feaster said. It staged events for Harris' commitment to LSU last summer and to recognize his invitation and jersey presentation for the Under Armour All-America Game.
Harris picked LSU over offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Auburn, UCLA and Nebraska.