Nov. 15, 2006
BY KATHLYN CLORE, The Island Packet
As early as 8 a.m. Wednesday, Brian Harrison was looking forward to getting home to check the mailbox.
The senior shortstop from Hilton Head High School is waiting to receive a national letter of intent to play baseball at Furman University, which he intends to sign and return right away.
Wednesday marked the first day of the 2006-07 recruiting period high school athletes playing sports other than football have to sign with colleges. The seven-day early period ends Nov. 15. Letters of intent may not be signed again until April 11. The regular signing period for football begins Feb. 7, 2007.
The Greenville school has offered Harrison a package of academic and athletic money.
"That was kind of the thing I was going for, finding the best fit academically and athletically," he said. "Where I could succeed in both."
It will be a relief to finish the stressful college selection process, Harrison said. The rest of his senior year is set to include a busy spring of baseball and four Advanced Placement classes, including physics.
"He's the real deal," Seahawks coach Chris Wells said. "He can go to any school he wants academically and athletically."
Harrison was one two Hilton Head High student-athletes nominated for the Wendy's High School Heisman and one of 20 finalists for the statewide award.
Position: Shortstop, pitcher. "In the summer I play a lot of outfield and pitch. I think at Furman I think they're looking at me to play anywhere, corner infield or corner outfield."
Probable major: Undecided, likely something related to science or math.
About the Paladins: Furman won the Southern Conference Tournament after finishing eighth in the SoCon during the regular season. The Paladins are the first No. 8 seed to win the conference tournament. They've made five NCAA Tournament appearances, the most recent in 2005. Coach Ron Smith (289-357-3) this spring enters his 13th season at the helm. A 1979 graduate of Furman, Smith played baseball and basketball for the Paladins.
Why Furman: Harrison said he decided on Furman during the first week of October, after an official visit. "It's just a great academic school but they also have a good baseball tradition. They're really committed to winning and that appealed to me a lot, too."
Other schools who offered scholarships: Duke University and The Citadel.
Other High School sports played: Football and basketball at Hilton Head Christian Academy, which he attended from sixth grade through his sophomore year. He transferred to Hilton Head High for his junior year. During the high school offseason, Harrison said, he played with the Charleston-based Diamond Devils, a club team for which he played in more than 50 games this summer.
Accolades: Part of the 2006 Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette All-Area Baseball Team. Hit .347, including two home runs and 14 RBIs. Playing shortstop, he made 56 putouts and 32 assists with just five errors.
Qualified academically?: Yes. Harrison scored a perfect 800 on the math section of his SAT.