Years ago when Lonnie Harris, Jr., was just learning how to play football in the Thomson-McDuffie County Recreation program, he dreamed of someday playing high school and college football.
As he got older and matured, Harris, who was a standout defensive linebacker for the Thomson High School Bulldogs, got better and better at the sport. And now he's preparing to enter the next level of the sport - college football.
Harris, son of Lonnie Harris, Sr., of Thomson and Angela Johnson, of Warrenton, signed a letter of intent to play for the Hurricanes of Louisberg Junior College in Louisberg, N.C. during special ceremonies in the high school's media center last Wednesday. The day marked National Signing Day for prep football players across America.
"It feels good to know that I'm being given the opportunity to play college football," said Harris during a recent interview. "It's like a dream."
Harris said he is looking forward to leaving the Thomson area for North Carolina.
"I've never been that far from home before," said Harris. "I think it will fun to play football in that area."
One of the games scheduled next season at Louisberg Junior College will be against Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, who also attempted to recruit Harris. GMC is home to Harris' first cousin, Disco Reese, a former star running back at Warren County High School.
"I'm looking forward to us traveling to Milledgeville to play against my cousin," said Harris, who plans to study engineering. "That game will be a lot of fun, since he's one of their starters."
Harris, who stands 6-2 and weighs 185 lbs., is expected to play strong safety for the Hurricanes after trading in his beloved black and gold uniform that he has donned at Thomson High School the past several years.
"They (college coaches) believe I can start at strong safety because of my speed," said Harris.
He says he's going to miss younger players that he has become friends with at Thomson High School, as well as several of the coaches.
"I'm going to miss my all of my friends and I'm going to miss a lot of the coaches, especially Coach (John) Barnett," said Harris. "Coach Barnett has been my mentor since I played football in the eighth grade at Thomson Middle School. He used to come over and check on me. I enjoyed playing football for him."
Harris plans to transfer to a Division I school within the Southeastern Conference after playing at Louisberg for two years.
"I'd love to play at Florida, South Carolina or Georgia," said Harris. "I think if I work hard, that can happen someday."