Pamela Blocton is all too familiar with the drive from Montgomery to Lawrence, Kan. It’s a bear of a trip — 812 miles on six interstates across five state lines. She made that 13-hour journey multiple times over the past two years.
That’s what a mother does. Her son, former Park Crossing High standout Marcus Harris, played football at Kansas. She flew up there for a few home games, but with her two younger sons playing football on Friday nights, finding convenient flight times was a challenge.
It’s one she no longer has to deal with, though. Harris entered the transfer portal last month and committed to Auburn football on May 21. Blocton’s Saturday commute to home games will now be a quick, 50-mile ride east on I-85 to Jordan-Hare Stadium.
For her, it’s a relief. For her son, it’s “a dream come true.” Harris grew up an Auburn fan. He always envisioned himself one day playing in the SEC. And after two years in the Big 12, he has earned that opportunity.
“I always tell him, ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. So work hard,’” Blocton said. “He continued to grind and work hard, and then doors started opening for him.”
Those doors weren’t open for Harris coming out of high school. The 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive lineman was a three-star recruit ranked No. 1,950 nationally in the 2019 class. Only two of the 23 offers he received came from Power 5 programs, and none came from the SEC.
Harris chose Kansas over Liberty and Tulane in large part because of coach Les Miles. Blocton said Miles visited their house in Montgomery to personally recruit Harris. Both of them liked that he kept open the line of communication and felt like he was a man of his word.
Had Kansas not parted ways with Miles in March, Harris might have stayed there. He liked the program and the atmosphere in Lawrence. He became one of the Jayhawks’ most productive defenders last season after redshirting in 2019, leading the team with 7½ tackles for loss to go along with 27 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
But he still had that desire to play in the SEC.
“I had no question, no doubt coming out of high school that he was an SEC player,” said Angelo Wheeler, his coach at Park Crossing. “He’s going to dominate the SEC. He’s going to dominate. He’s going to be a huge pickup for Auburn because he’s so fundamentally sound.”
Auburn landed Harris the same way Miles did — by creating that trust. Harris said he heard from either defensive coordinator Derek Mason or defensive line coach Nick Eason daily. They kept in constant contact with Blocton, too, telling her the same things they were telling him.
Their message: That he would have a chance to start and, a few years from now, play in the NFL.
“I want to go in and play right away and contribute as much as I can,” Harris said. “The main thing is I can play any position on the D-line, I feel. I’m versatile. So whatever position they need me at, I’m ready to get on the field.”
Wheeler compared him to another former Montgomery standout who starred on Auburn’s defensive line — Marlon Davidson. Both are hard-working, high-motor players. Davidson, a second-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2020, will go down as one of the best defensive linemen who has ever played for the Tigers. Wheeler believes Harris has that same ability.
“Marcus is the type who sleeps, eats football,” Blocton said. “Even his breaks, Marcus still works out two to three times a day. He’s always going to work out, try to maintain his body mass and do everything he needs to do. They’re going to get an excellent player. He’s going to give it his all every down.”
She’ll be there to see every snap. And she won’t have to drive nearly as far.
“That’s who I play games for; my family and the fans,” Harris said. “So it’s always good to have the family close for support and so they can come see my games.”