Drake Harris (image via Rivals)
Redshirt junior Drake Harris announced on Twitter that he’s moving from wide receiver to cornerback. Harris, who’s listed at 6’4″ and 188 lbs., caught 2 passes for 11 yards in 2016 and 6 passes for 39 yards in 2015.
Harris was a highly touted recruit in the 2014 class, but he lost his senior high school season and his true freshman season to repeated hamstring injuries. Hamstring and other issues have continued to hamper him over the past couple years, and he missed the majority of this past spring due to injury. Fair or not, I can’t help wondering if the fact that he’s still 188 lbs. at 6’4″ contributes to his problems.
Anyway, despite being a front-runner at one point for playing time at receiver in 2017, that spot seems to be in good shape with the incoming freshmen. Tarik Black and Donovan Peoples-Jones both seem capable of playing immediately, and Michigan returns Maurice Ways, Jr., Eddie McDoom, Kekoa Crawford, and more. Harris had some deep speed, but he couldn’t work out chemistry with his quarterbacks – perhaps because of missing so much time – and 8 catches for 50 yards over two years isn’t very promising.
On the defensive side of things, cornerback is a concern coming out of the spring. Presumed starters Lavert Hill, a sophomore, and David Long, a redshirt freshman, don’t seem like sure things for this fall, and redshirt sophomore Keith Washington might have pushed ahead of one or both after the spring. Freshman Ambry Thomas enrolled early but looks very skinny, and freshman Benjamin St-Juste looks promising but isn’t ready to start yet. Competition might not be the answer, but it won’t hurt.
Meanwhile, Michigan sent three cornerbacks to the NFL in the past few weeks, including draftees Jourdan Lewis and Jeremy Clark, as well as free agent signee Channing Stribling. Clark was listed at 6’4″ while he was at Michigan, though he checked in at 6’3″ at the NFL Combine. Jim Harbaugh also helped get 6’3″ Richard Sherman to the NFL by making him a cornerback at Stanford.
This helps Michigan get longer at corner, provides competition at a position of need, and doesn’t seem to have much of a negative impact on the wide receiver group. Michigan fans have grown accustomed to not counting on Harris to produce much at receiver, so things will remain status quo on that front. If a need does arise on offense, Harris could presumably make another switch to fortify the receiver spot. And if he can’t contribute on defense, either, he may be exploring graduate transfer options in 2018.