The University of Oregon is in the midst of spring football camp, and prospective athletes from across the nation have stopped by to take in the activities. Tallahassee tight end Laith Harlow was in Eugene for a spring camp session and Duck Sports Authority spoke with him about the experience.
"Oh man, I loved it," said Harlow. "I liked the fast-tempo part of it. I believe that every football team needs that because everybody needs to be in shape to the best of their ability. I think it's hard for defenses to react to such a fast offensive game plan so I like that a lot. I like it how they are always moving and always working hard."
During the practice session, Harlow spent his time conversing with Oregon staff and asking all the questions he could conjure.
"I'm a football guy, you know, it's my life," Harlow explained. "I loved watching the practice, but I like watching all practices. I'm very interested in the Ducks as a team that I might end up going to. If Oregon does end up being my future team I wanted to know exactly what I was getting into. I like to make sure I'm up on things."
The 6-foot-5, 240 pound Godby high school standout made the trip to Eugene with family along to help with the evaluation.
"My mom and my brother Justin were with me," said Harlow. "My mom wants to make sure the school I end up going to, which may be Oregon, is a good school, so she had to come with me. My brother is my biggest influence on football. I base everything I do on him so I want to make sure he likes the place wherever it is."
Harlow and his family endured a gauntlet of western states driving to explore his college options further.
"We were just there for the day," Harlow replied. "We drove straight from Colorado and got in at about 8:00am and by then it was time to head on over to practice. So we had a 21-hour drive and came straight there to Eugene then we ended up leaving around 6pm I would say."
For the younger Harlow brother, this trip was the first taste of the northwest.
"I had never been out west. I had been to California but never the other parts with the hills and the farms. That was pretty cool and I really liked seeing that. My brother lives in Colorado now so we went snowboarding and hung out and had a lot of fun. It was nice having them on the trip to help pass the time talking instead of just driving. But honestly, I would have to say the highlight of my trip was the Oregon Ducks."
"Oregon as a college choice, I have always been high on the Ducks," continued Harlow. "To take the trip out there made me feel it even more. The vibe out there, it already felt like home. It wasn't a game day, it was just an average spring day, it's not even football time, but I still felt it and I liked it a lot."
An item that stood out to Harlow was the way the Oregon Ducks use his position.
"I really like the way they use their tight ends," stated Harlow. "The day I saw practice, three of the tight ends were the leading receivers. They were throwing to the tight ends all practice long. As a tight end, I am a ball hog. I want you to put the ball in my hands because I feel I can change the game for you. David (Paulson) number 42 is a great tight end. He's the best in the Pac-10. 87 (Brandon Williams) is really good also, I like the way he plays. The other tight ends on the roster haven't played yet so I feel that is perfect for me because their top two guys are seniors."
Despite the obvious mutual interest, the Ducks are not quite through with Harlow's offer process.
"I don't have an offer from Oregon yet. They told me they have gone through everything they could possibly go through except actually coming and seeing me practice and that's all they need. Oregon goes through a process before they offer anybody and that is part of it. They said they would come out as soon as possible to get the offer rolling."
Why would a standout from Tallahassee look all the way across the country for college when he's got offers from his own backyard?
"It has never been about places for me it has been about where my best fit is. I have never understood why players like a school but don't pick it because it isn't close to home. In the end it is like a business. You have to go where you feel best and you feel wanted. I feel wanted by Oregon and a lot of places in Florida as you know."
As much as Harlow liked Eugene and the Ducks, his decision is far from complete.
"I'm not saying I am going to Oregon. I am not saying that by any means. I like Oregon, I like teams in Florida. But you have to broaden your horizon and visit places. I am definitely glad I visited Oregon."