Previously: Last year's profiles, CB Brandon Watson, CB Jabrill Peppers, LB Jared Wangler, LB Chase Winovich, LB Noah Furbush, LB Michael Ferns, DL Brady Pallante, DL Bryan Mone, DL Lawrence Marshall, OL Mason Cole, OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty, WR Moe Ways, WR Freddy Canteen.
|Grand Rapids, MI – 6'4", 176|
|Scout||4*, #52 overall
|Rivals||4*, #115 overall
#14 WR, #3 MI
|ESPN||4*, #85 overall
#10 WR, #3 MI
|24/7||4*, #88 overall
#12 WR, #3 MI
|Other Suitors||Bama, FSU, Georgia, UF, MSU, Neb, OSU, ND, Oregon, PSU|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||UA game, but did not play. Twitter.|
He's also got a hudl page.
Hey, remember Drake Harris? He's kind of a big deal. He committed to Michigan State very early as a dual-sport guy who thought he was mostly going to be a basketball player. He re-opened his recruitment when everyone figured out he was an elite football prospect and only a good basketball one.
Not coincidentally, this occurred shortly after his Looney Tunes junior year: 91 catches, 2,016 yards, 23 TDs. It ended with a 243-yard explosion in the state title game against two defensive backs that ended up at Michigan State. It did not matter what OLSM tried:
…even with two guys bracketing him on almost every play, the 6-foot-4, 180-pound Harris just came up with outstanding catch after outstanding catch.
That is a star-making performance, and lo, stars were made. By the time he committed to Michigan in April, Harris was the #2 WR on the 247 composite and had the offers to reflect it.
Harris chose Michigan over offers from Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Michigan State.
Then his hamstrings imploded. He missed his entire senior year thanks to issues that were perpetually one or two weeks away from ending; he missed a chunk spring ball thanks to those same issues, and he is now having a problem with the other hamstring that is supposedly minor. At this point, it seems like this is something more than bad luck. But more about that later.
[After THE JUMP: "Randy Moss-like vertical leap." Hello!]
This bit is about what Michigan's won: a deep threat. There's a little debate about whether he is a true burner, but there is none about what happens when he goes up for a deep ball. 247's Clint Brewster brings out the biggest gun of all when trying to describe him:
…has to be accounted for by opposing defenses every pass play. Harris has the speed and agility to take any pass to the house, with a Randy Moss-like vertical leap on deep balls. Harris can stretch the defense and blow by defensive backs while making it look easy.
Allen Trieu has similarly high praise:
Has truly elite ball skills. Height, leaping ability and body control allow him to go up and adjust to passes most would not come down with. Is a glider on the field, and as a result, is faster than most will give him credit for. Can get deep, and is also good after the catch. Smooth, polished route runner who understands how to set up defenders and create separation.
ESPN likes him quite a bit, calling him a "really good athlete" with "incredible body control" plus "great height and wingspan."
…already has the initial quickness to escape press… Has very good hand-eye coordination and focus. Snatches the ball out of the air in awkward positions. …Not much wiggle, but surprising acceleration to outrun defender's angles. … Outstanding when challenged downfield and the ball is up for grabs. Isn't always running by people, but he wins a lot in contested matchups.
The rest of the evaluations continue in that vein, sometimes more optimistic, sometimes less:
Bud Elliot, SBN: "…excellent leaping ability. … clearly understands positioning and boxing out, another trait from his basketball days. … speed is good but not great, and he does not offer all that much after the catch."
Sam Webb reporting from Michigan's camp: "got on top of most defensive backs with ease. Those that were able to stick with him did so by winning the physical battle at or close to the line. On those occasions he was still sometimes able to win the battle by out-leaping his opponent for the ball."
Derrell Warren, SBN: "…long strider with built-up speed. has the upside of a true number one receiver type who has the frame to wall off defenders on underneath routes the speed to tilt coverage and win vertically. On contested throws he shows really good body control as he can contort his frame in the air to adjust to off-target throws."
Brewster again: "great frame at 6-foot-4, along with a huge vertical that allows him to go overtop of defenders to make a catch. Harris also has unique ball skills, where he can naturally catch a pass over his shoulder or go get it."
Greg Biggins, Scout: "He's both quick off the line and has a smooth, easy stride allowing him to get separation down the field. His leaping ability is off the charts."
Gerry Hamilton, 247: "…does an excellent job of tracking down the football over his shoulder on deep passes, which is the most difficult thing for wide receivers. …has a huge catching radius … can also take short passes and screens the distance, as he shows excellent moves and the ability to make defenders miss."
We have reached the point where you have the idea. Lanky long-striding guy with huge wingspan and terrific ability to go get the ball.
- There's debate about whether his speed is great ("elite speed" sayeth 247) or just pretty good ("isn't the fastest guy on the field" sayeth ESPN), but that seems like the difference between Harris being a thousand-yard receiver who's remembered fondly and being a wrecking ball with a legends patch.
- There's a more severe split on his ability to juke a guy in space, with some asserting that he's just not going to give you much there and other saying he's good… for his size. I tend to side with the former there. He's not going to be a guy you would target on a screen because he's neither quick enough to make a guy whiff nor big enough to drag him four yards even after you don't. Which is fine. Those guys are pretty easy to come by. Harrises are not.
Harris arrived early, like Canteen; unlike Canteen, he could not find his way onto the field for the spring game. That's because of those danged hamstrings. He did get most of the way through, at least:
"It's pretty frustrating, but I've played basically the whole spring (until now). I've learned a lot. So I'll stay focused and stay positive." …
…"It's a different spot," he said. "(It wasn't really that scary) because the way I felt it this time was a lot different from what I did in high school. I knew it wasn't too bad."
He was on the verge of coming back a couple times as a senior when the thing went twang again, so Michigan shut him down. The high school situation:
"I tried to come back twice during the season and I tweaked it a couple of times. The first time I came back was when we were about to play East (Grand Rapids). I came back and I tweaked it again. So then I was like, ‘it’s not ready’, so I tried to hold off until the playoffs. When I came back the first week, I’d been training with my trainer every day of the week; five days a week I was getting up in the morning on Saturdays like 6am working out with him trying to get better."
Harris has now had at least four different incidents in that hamstring in the last year. They tend to pile up one after another if not treated, so it may be wise to spend a year trying to get that hamstring truly right before putting him into action.
That goes double since this was the first mention about Drake Harris in fall camp.
"He's got a hamstring (injury), he hasn't -- he's taken some limited reps, but not like we'd really like to do with him," Hoke said. "He hurt it earlier in the week, it's a different hamstring.
"He has been shut down (for the most part). Limited reps, and most of those are rehab reps."
The hamstring issues have definitely hurt his ability to get on the collegiate level. Before his senior year he told Scout he was 180, aspired to hit 195 by the time he hit campus, and would end up at 205. He's currently listed at… 176. If Harris does manage to find his way onto the field at this point he is truly an amazing talent.
Etc.: They mad. Or at least were mad.
Why Tai Streets? Streets was a lanky 6'4" long-strider with deceptive speed and not much wiggle who made a living skying over defensive backs and cutting inside on slants when they overplayed him deep. I was actually just watching the 1999 Citrus Bowl on the 'tubes and after one catch the color guy says Streets "covers five yards in two strides," which is word for word in Harris's ESPN profile.
Braylon Edwards and David Terrell are also potential comparables, but Streets wins here because he's skinny like Harris is and may remain. He's not that far off either of those guys in terms of wow factor, either: he was a second-round pick and had a thousand-yard season with the 49ers before injury cut his career short.
Guru Reliability: High-minus. They all say the same things and have him in the same range; most of them dropped him to around 100th because of the injury. That's completely reasonable. He is now inherently a hard kid to judge, though.
Variance: High. Dude could be awesome! Dude could spend his career watching from the sideline, massaging various recalcitrant muscles.
Ceiling: Very high. Guy was on the verge of five star status after unstoppable junior year. Could be elite.
General Excitement Level: High-minus. Boom or bust guy, but it's just a hamstring, right? Who retires because hamstrings? Nice that Michigan doesn't need him right now; should get those injury issues resolved eventually.
Projection: At this point you have to think redshirt. Michigan goes five or six deep with reasonable options at WR and Harris's hamstrings have put him way behind a guy like Canteen. Have Wellman do his best to fix his legs and see what you've got next year.
If healthy, Harris faces a crowd of competitors this year and next. 2015's receiving corps will have Darboh, Chesson, Canteen, and Norfleet all with considerable experience and then four other guys. I wouldn't be surprised if he blew through all of them; I wouldn't be surprised if he was stuck in back of them for a while.