Drake Harris was the seventh ranked wide receiver in the 2014 high school recruiting class; now, because of an extensive injury history, Harris is battling to be one of the top four receivers on his own team. Having only made eight catches in his entire career, the redshirt junior could still come out of the proverbial shadows to give Michigan an essential skill set in its offense.
While many veteran stories are lost in the (well deserved) hype of the incoming freshman recruits, let us not forget the stud Drake Harris was in high school. As a junior at Grand Rapids Christian, Harris set the state record with 2,015 receiving yards, including 243 yards in the state championship game. Speed? Yeah, he’s got that.
Listed at 6’4”, Harris is also part of a size renaissance at the wide receiver position - Tarik Black is also 6’4”, Nico Collins is 6’5” and Zach Gentry (who seems more and more like a wide receiver in tight end’s clothes) is a towering 6’7”. This isn’t the possession receivers of Hoke’s era, though - they’re all threats to take it to the house.
Harris possesses more than just height and speed, though: he’s gained experience and knowledge on route-running and Michigan’s offense during his three seasons here. A knowledge that is seldom found among the young receivers fresh onto campus.
How can a player with barely more collegiate in-game experience than myself be helpful? Simple, practice (yeah, we’re talking about practice). Harris has competed against Jourdan Lewis, Jabrill Peppers, Channing Stribling, and Jeremy Clark, for the last three seasons, everyday, in practice. Learning the smallest details from four future NFL players (and countless other defenders who have moved on to the next level), Harris has been able to sharpen his skills and prepare himself to finally succeed at this level.
When healthy, Harris has received nothing but praise from Coach Harbaugh. In 2015, before the season opener against Utah, Harbaugh was quoted as saying, “Drake Harris has done a fine job,” and “He’s been really, really sharp.”
“God willing and the creek don’t rise, he’s going to be in there doing a good job.”
Then in 2016, Harris came into the season having improved his route-running, hands, and mental preparation. But once again, as has happened far too often, an injury ultimately forced him out of the rotation.
Another year, another injury, but yet another chance to improve; Harris was reluctantly provided an opportunity to sharpen all of his tools and further tighten his grasp on this complex pro-style offense from the sidelines. Despite the circumstances, Harris could break out as long as he’s finally given a path to play without injury.
In an unsurprising move, Harbaugh sat Harris during the spring game - whether healthy or not, he didn’t say, but he looked fine - and it protected him in case of another, untimely injury.
With Harris’ height, speed, and technical knowledge at the position, 2017 just might be his coming out party. Fingers crossed.