A lot of people will look at this pick as a player to watch and scratch their heads. Really? Him? He’s two feet tall. Didn’t he get torched by Oregon? He was our nickelback, how’s he going to contribute. But when you look at Harrison’s development from the beginning of 2007 to its conclusion in the Citrus Bowl it starts to make sense. Even more so, take a look at his numbers, 42 tackles, 6 TFL, 4 PBUs, and an INT; all despite playing nickel or back up safety. Hell, he finished a tackle ahead of Morgan Trent, a man who played every down of defensive football at corner for Michigan last year.
Michigan’s biggest defensive loss after last year was at safety. How Jamar Adams and Brandent Englemon got so little credit for the outstanding job they did in 2007 still blows my mind. Adams and Englemon were the tourniquets that finally stopped the defensive bleeding for Michigan last year, and now both are gone to the NFL. Now, one of those spots will go to Brandon Harrison.
Even though Harrison is generously listed at 5’9", he hits like a man twice his size. Harrison has a nose for sniffing out screens and uses his size as an advantage as he picks his way through blocks. Harrison also has the advantage of being the fastest player on the field when Michigan’s defense takes the field, as well as being one of the quickest players in a winged helmet. While his time as a corner back has limited and relatively unsuccessful (e.g., Oregon), his nickel time was outstanding and his role as a safety this year will simply build off his experiences in 2007.
Look for Harrison to take the role of Bradent Englemon. Like Englemon, Harrison is stout against the run and can match up against any back coming out of the backfield into the flats. He’s also a very smart player, using angles and leverage to his advantage and generally solid in coverage. Granted his size is a negative, but Harrison was all over the field against Florida and his continual improvement over the course of last season leads me to believe he’ll have an outstanding year at Safety and be one of 15 Michigan Football Players to Get Excited About in 2008.