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4-star EDGE Gabe Harris committed to UGA back in April. He has transferred to IMG Academy in Florida to gain eligibility for his senior season. (Instagram)
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Gabe Harris: Dedicated ‘Dawg commit returns to Athens after a trying off-season

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep has the latest with 4-star Georgia football commit Gabe Harris in the 2023 class. He ranks as the nation’s No. 16 EDGE and the No. 123 overall prospect on the 247Sports Composite ratings.

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Achieving football players are used to burning through adversity as fuel. It is a must.

As the saying goes, if it doesn’t challenge them, then it doesn’t change them. That’s commonplace within the sport just to become a starter at a quality program.

There’s a lot more needed in the tank in order to become an All-American prospect like Gabe Harris.

His internal reserves have been quite full over the last five months. They needed to be as Harris has roamed from Thomas Country Central to Valdosta High School to IMG Academy after his junior season.

That’s exactly one more move than he intended to make for his senior season.

“I’m responding to this adversity in a positive way,” he said. “I’m still blessed and still getting to do what I want to do and that’s play football. I’ve been able to put everything behind me and just focus on the present. What is it now? What is next? With everything going on, in my mind I was always like ‘What is next?’ so it has just been about how can I better myself now? How can I improve? Just training my mind and my body to be able to take on things when they are at their hardest. I now expect things to be hard.”

Gabe Harris: The road from Thomasville to Valdosta to Bradenton

Harris is back at Sanford Stadium for today’s 4 p.m. contest with Samford. His world has changed a lot since his last gameday visit. The 4-star EDGE was in Athens for his official visit during the first weekend of June. He also made it up for that cookout weekend in late July.

Prior to that, he was in Athens for G-Day. He had been a silent commit for the ‘Dawgs since early March but was at G-Day on April 16. He went public with that silent pledge the very next day.

He was at Valdosta High back then. Harris chose to transfer there for his senior season. While he was at Valdosta, he benefitted greatly during his time working with Wildcats head coach Shelton Felton.

Felton had been the outside linebackers coach for SEC East member Tennessee prior to his time leading the nation’s all-time winningest preps program. He also coached the OLBs at Valdosta.

What he did with Harris was make a quantum leap in his game.

“I learned a lot,” Harris said. “From my film from my junior year and what I’m about to put out there and keep putting out there now is completely different. More explosive plays. He helped me get to where I want to be today. I’m not going to lie. [Coach Felton] he changed my whole game.”

Felton reshaped him into the kind of player that will play early in the SEC. Harris is rated as the nation’s No. 123 recruit, but an overview of his summer film and early senior tape film merits a stout increase in that ranking.

The big reason why: Harris showed up at IMG Academy and immediately started playing on a defense stacked with elite prospects.

“The biggest thing for me was practice habits,” Harris said. “You practice how you play and that was instilled in me at Valdosta.”

The unfortunate thing here is he’s not playing for Felton and Valdosta. To make a long story short, his move to Valdosta was not recognized as a bona fide move by the Georgia High School Association. Harris and Valdosta exhausted all their options via appeals and pleading their case.

Harris says he made the move to Valdosta so he could graduate early. He wasn’t able to do that at Thomas County Central. He was looking for the path to get him to Athens as a December graduate in January of 2023.

He made the choice to move to South Florida to play for the national boarding school powerhouse. Harris arrived at his new school one week and played in the first IMG Academy game six days later.

His steps now lead him back to Athens today. If Harris opts to walk down the steps Harris of Sanford Stadium today and let out a big exhale, no one would blame him.

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