Missouri redshirt junior defensive end Charles Harris might be playing his final game in black and gold Friday at Memorial Stadium.
Harris is widely projected as a first-round NFL Draft pick and one of the top available edge rushers if he chooses to forego his final season with the Tigers and turn pro.
Knowing that, first-year Mizzou coach Barry Odom said Monday he’s given Harris the option to participate in Mizzou’s senior day before a 1:30 p.m. kickoff against Arkansas on CBS.
Harris — a lightly recruited Lincoln Prep graduate, who took a star turn and now is tied for seventh at MU with 18 career sacks (including nine this season) — has been reticent, though senior teammates wouldn’t have a problem including in the pregame festivities.
“I’d love to have him by my side, take a pic with him out there on the field,” senior defensive tackle Rickey Hatley said, “but it’s all up to him and how he feels about it.”
For Harris’ part, he’s still mulling the idea.
“I haven’t really thought about it yet,” Harris said. “I’m supposed to let (Odom) know by (Tuesday) I guess, but I haven’t really thought about it. It would be cool if I did do it.”
At the same time, Harris said he might pass on it “just because it’s not really my senior day. I’m not really a senior technically. That’s their day. It’s not my day at all and there should be no attention towards me.”
Harris, who is set to graduate this summer with a degree in health science, said he has not made up his mind about whether to declare for the draft. He is focused on the Tigers’ season finale against Arkansas and finals, which wrap up Dec. 15 for him.
“I’m really debating it,” said Harris, who said he’ll probably confer with family during the winter break before making a final decision. “I’m definitely considering coming back.”
During a breakout redshirt sophomore season last year, Harris said he wanted to return in 2016 to play alongside former Mizzou defensive tackle Harold Brantley, a plan that didn’t work out when the latter was dismissed for academic reasons on the eve of Odom’s first training camp.
But teammates might again be a determining factor in Harris’ decision.
“I may want to go out with the same class — Eric Beisel, Anthony Sherrils, AJ Logan and all those guys I came in with,” Harris said. “Wanting to go out with those guys and finish with a bang with them, I know next year we’ll have a great defense if I come back.”
Right now, all that matter until around 5 p.m. Friday is Arkansas.
“Once the final horn blows, then I’ll probably sit back and look at the stands and enjoy my time here,” Harris said.