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14Jul 2017
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2017 Season Countdown: #49 Drake Harris

Drake Harris (image via MLive)

Name: Drake Harris
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 188 lbs.
High school: Grand Rapids (MI) Christian
Position: Cornerback
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #14
Last year: I ranked Harris #42 and said he would be a backup wide receiver with 9 catches for 90 yards and 1 TD. He had 2 catches for 11 yards.
TTB Rating: 93

There was a lot of hype for Harris in the 2015-2016 off-season. A long, tall, speedy wide receiver who used to be an elite basketball recruit? It was about time that he hit his stride. But instead of capitalizing on all those skills when he finally seemed to be healthy, he made 2 receptions for 11 yards. Meanwhile, the two wideouts ahead of him got drafted to the NFL, and the guys expected to replace them are . . . not Drake Harris.

No, Drake Harris won’t replace Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh, because Harris is now a cornerback. He and Jim Harbaugh decided to make the position switch this summer after spring practice had concluded. One reason is that cornerback needs depth and competition, and another reason is likely that Harris just wasn’t getting it done at receiver. On 8 career catches, Harris has a paltry 6.2 yards per reception. Of course, he has never played defense before, so that could be an adventure itself.

Michigan’s staff has had success with tall corners and position-switchers in the past (Jeremy Clark from S to CB, Richard Sherman from WR to CB), but Harris’s injury history and the suddenness of this switch seems not to bode very well for this fall. I do think he could make some contributions simply because of his size, and this is a year where Michigan might need to throw a bunch of corners out there and give them all a chance to move to the front of the pack. The Wolverines lost their top three corners from last season; Harris, David Long, and Lavert Hill have all had injury issues; and the door to a starting job seems to be wide open. I don’t think Harris will start, but anything could happen with this group.

Prediction: Backup cornerback

13Jul 2017
Blog, homepage 19 comments

2017 Season Countdown: #50 Zach Gentry

Zach Gentry (image via 247 Sports)

Name: Zach Gentry
Height: 6’7″
Weight: 244 lbs.
High school: Albuquerque (NM) Eldorado
Position: Tight end
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #83
Last year: I ranked Gentry #61 and said he would be a backup tight end. He played in seven games.
TTB Rating: 84

Gentry has had an interesting career in just two years on campus. Brought in as a blue-chip quarterback, he struggled with the offense and began taking snaps as a tight end during the bowl preparation at the end of the 2015 season. He then struggled with blocking at the tight end position, so he spent the second half of the 2016 season taking reps at wide receiver. This spring Michigan was down a couple tight ends from last year, and Gentry was back at tight end.

Gentry still struggles with blocking, despite the fact that he’s listed at 244 lbs. Honestly, he’s terrible at blocking as an in-line tight end. He’s not aggressive, and he’s slow to get off the ball. I would be surprised if Michigan uses him in that role at all this season. However, he is a unique specimen as a receiving prospect, and he has shown that ability on multiple occasions. His most exciting play was a long catch-and-run touchdown in the spring game; it was a busted coverage, but he made a (walk-on) defender miss in space and then sprinted to the endzone. The ability is obvious. Whether Michigan uses that athletic ability or not remains to be seen, but it’s there. I think the idea of a matchup problem is overused, but a guy who’s 6’7″ and can run like Gentry is a rarity.

Prediction: Backup tight end

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