To Luke Harrison’s surprise, Maryville College wasn’t as big of a college campus as he thought it might be.
That was just fine with him.
The Valley Head senior lineman joined family and friends in the library as he signed a national letter of intent with the Scots at Valley Head High School on Thursday afternoon.
“Coming from little Valley Head, this doesn’t happen much, so it’s pretty awesome that it happened to me,” Harrison said of his collegiate signing with the school in Maryville, Tenn.
“Coming from a small 1A school, I was thinking college and how it was going to be a lot different, but it’s no bigger than what [Northeast Alabama Community College’s] campus is. It’s a family atmosphere and I enjoyed it a lot.”
Harrison was a standout for the Tigers, serving as a player who other players turned to for guidance and leadership. He helped the team capture the Class 1A, Region 7 championship, finish with an 8-3 overall record and host a first-round state playoff game in 2020.
Harrison said he was sending video of his game highlights out all over the place when he got a response from Maryville head coach Ben Fox, who is entering his first season as the team’s 30th head coach.
“When you get that first text message back from somebody you kind of get butterflies in your stomach,” Harrison said. “When it happened I was excited. I got to talking with (Fox) and he said, ‘We’d really like to have you.’ I was like, ‘Sounds good, coach. When can I come visit and think about it?’ He said, ‘Soon as you can.’”
Harrison said he visited the Maryville campus one Saturday and was impressed. In April, the Valley Head senior decided it was the right place for him.
Maryville is an NCAA Division III school competing in the USA South Athletic Conference. In the 2019-20 season, the Scots went 3-7 before then-head coach Shaun Hayes resigned after four seasons at the helm.
Harrison said Maryville wants him to play on the defensive line. He was all for the challenge.
“I said, ‘That’s fine, I just want to be able to play football and have fun.’ That’s what I’m going to do,” he said.
Knowing of Harrison’s work ethic first hand, Tigers head coach Heath Vincent said he’s looking forward to what Harrison will do on the collegiate stage.
“(Harrison) knows he’s going to have to learn a very complex playbook at the next level, a complex playbook compared to what we’ve had,” Vincent said, “so he’ll have to transition into that system. The quicker he can learn that system that they have at Maryville, the easier he’ll make that transition.
“I was so proud of him being one of our team leaders this year. His leadership with this team was one of the driving forces of our success this season.”
Harrison said he wants to study education and become a teacher and maybe a coach one day. He said he has interests in science and history.