Upperman’s Clayton Harris Signs With Middle Tennessee State Football

By Michael Lindsay


Upperman High School senior Clayton Harris is taking his football talents to Murfreesboro as he signed with Middle Tennessee State University Wednesday morning.

“It’s fun and I’m ready to get up there and go to work,” said Harris. “They have a really good program and loved all the coaching staff. It’s not too far from home, which is big.”

Harris was a four-year starter for the Bees, who wrapped up his senior season at 14-1 overall and finished as the Class 4A state runner-up.

“He was a 4-year starter for me, so we put in a lot of hours and game time together on Friday nights,” said Upperman head coach Adam Caine. “I haven’t seen anyone evolve or progress as much as he did in four years, which is unique because he started as a freshman. He transformed his body and his mental approach to football became exactly what you’re looking for as a head coach. I’ve challenged him to continue that progression and become a really good college player.”

Harris earned a spot in the 2023 Tennessee East-West All-Star Classic, where MTSU first saw him in action.

“We went up there and worked for a week, and I’m glad it paid off and somebody saw it,” said Harris.

Harris competed in the all-star game alongside Caine, who served as an assistant on the East staff.

“He went up there and grinded it out against guys that are going to be Division I players,” said Caine. “In the Friday night game, the matchup he had all night was a kid who’s committed to Mississippi State, and he really did well against him. MTSU watched his tape in that game and immediately called him and got him on campus for a visit.”

Harris was named Class 4A All-State and Region 4-4A MVP in 2023.

“He was the focal point of our defense,” Caine said. “We did a lot of different stuff with him. We stood him up some and let him be an outside linebacker, but he was also strong enough to play down over a tackle. We created mismatches with him.

“Any time you have a dominant pass rusher, they can impact games,” Caine added. “At this level, when you have a dominant force like Clayton, it can get in people’s head. His presence made us a better team and it’s going to be very difficult to replace his production.”

Along with his on-field production, the Harris had an impact in the locker room.

“He’s somebody on the team everybody looked up to,” said Caine. “I have a son on the team and he has immense respect for Clayton. It’s rare these days for kids to have that respect for their peers.”

Harris’ journey from Upperman to MTSU wasn’t a lonely one.

“Really it was God,” said Harris. “Coach Caine and coach Brian Johnson for sure. He’s probably the best D-Line coach in Tennessee. The offensive line always worked with me, and Evan Briggs and Eli Bullock.”

“Upperman has meant the world to me,” Harris added. “I’ve loved every second here and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”