Last week, Warner Robins safety CJ Harris became a hot topic when it was revealed he would not be allowed to walk on at Auburn. On Wednesday, Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn spoke on the subject for the first time.
Malzahn cleared the air about Harris, who has been diagnosed with epilepsy and takes cannabis oil medication to prevent seizures. Malzahn said Harris was not cleared by the Auburn medical staff, thereby making him ineligible to join the Tigers. Malzahn intimated Harris’ cannabis oil medication did not factor into the staff’s conclusion.
“He wasn’t cleared by our medical staff. That was really the bottom line,” Malzahn said. “It didn’t have anything to do with anything else like some people reported.”
Harris’ situation had been a feel-good story in February when the safety accepted a preferred walk-on role at Auburn. With his seizures in check thanks to the cannabis oil, Harris was part of a 2017 Warner Robins team that won 13 games and played for the GHSA Class 5A state championship.
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“I was excited that my dream school had interested in me,” Harris said in February. “I knew if I got to Auburn I have to put work in to get my scholarship.”
Receiving the walk-on spot was a high point in what had been a trying few years for Harris and his father, Curtis. Harris began suffering seizures regularly in the spring of his sophomore year, and finding the right medication proved tricky. Eventually, Curtis heard about the cannabis oil, leading him to seek it out for his son.
It took about a year for Harris to finally be cleared to take the cannabis oil, and once he transferred to Warner Robins from First Presbyterian Day the situation became more complicated. Because Warner Robins is a public high school and a drug-free zone, Curtis would pick CJ up every day at lunch, bring him home to take the medicine then take him back to school.
The dream scenario for Harris ended a few weeks ago when the Auburn football team’s medical staff concluded Harris could not play. Needless to say, it was a tough turn of events for Harris as well as his father. Curtis told WGXA‘s Cam Gaskins telling his son the news was "the hardest thing I’ve done."
"You're taking something away from a kid who's worked so hard in his life to get there," Curtis told WGXA.