2017 Season Countdown: #49 Drake Harris

2017 Season Countdown: #49 Drake Harris

July 14, 2017

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


  1. Avatar
    Comments: 1357
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Jul 14, 2017 at 7:26 AM

    That’s a really big corner if he can cover … and more importantly, stay healthy.

    It’s that second thing that i think will end up biting this kid.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1364
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Jul 14, 2017 at 8:56 AM

      Well, there are reasons why you don’t normally see 6’4″ and 6’5″ corners, even though there are receivers that tall. A switch to FS might have made more sense, considering our depth chart, but the coaches may have thought he was not as well suited to that for other reasons.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3849
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Jul 14, 2017 at 9:17 AM

        Putting him at cornerback might give them the flexibility to put another cornerback at safety, such as Brandon Watson. I don’t think Harris is a good fit at free safety.

        Also, he’s listed at 6’4″, which probably means he’s 6’3″. And while there aren’t a ton of 6’3″/6’4″ corners, Jim Harbaugh has found some guys who are good enough at that size to suggest Harbaugh knows what he’s doing.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1364
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Jul 14, 2017 at 9:46 AM

          Possibly, though at 5’11” 200 lbs, I would see Watson as more of a strong safety, if they were contemplating that kind of switch. And even if they made a move like that, I think Harris would still be significantly below the 5 remaining CBs in terms of playability, at least for this season.

          As far as Harbaugh knowing what he’s doing, well, I wouldn’t say that his position switches have been successful more often than not. In this case, it may just be a matter of him seeing that Harris is never going to make an impact at WR, and moving him to a position where he has a greater (though still not necessarily very good) chance of contributing.

          • DonAZ
            Comments: 523
            Joined: 8/12/2015
            Jul 14, 2017 at 10:14 AM

            I agree with this … my sense here is Drake Harris is a good kid that’s just not going to contribute. So they moved him to corner for depth, but probably don’t have much banked on his production there.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 6285
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Jul 14, 2017 at 12:06 PM

              Same here. Substance over style, I have to agree with WCB.

              This is a last gasp for relevance for Harris. Hopefully it works, but it doesn’t seem likely to in 2017, even with our depth concerns at CB.

              I think Woods, McKeon, R.Johnson, and the freshman LBs are far more likely to make an impact on the field.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6285
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Jul 14, 2017 at 12:13 PM

          Clark is the obvious comparison here and it makes a lot of sense to try to find another. Harris, clearly, is a good athlete, as was Clark and he has a big frame. Clark was able to become a solid CB in a single offseason, to I think everyone’s surprise.

          Of course, Clark was already playing safety (albeit not very well) so his skills were probably more transferable.

          Even if Harris manages to be capable in press coverage, he’s likely to have issues in run defending. People killed Stribling for this last year, and he was one of the best coverage corners in the country. Harris may offer similar drawbacks without corresponding benefits.

          Thunder is right to point out the uncertainty at CB. The recruiting strategy has led to true freshman and wonky senior year position switches being legitimate contenders for playing time. Still – it seems like the guys ahead of him would really have to undergo a series of misfortunes for Harris to emerge into the playing rotation.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 82
            Joined: 1/10/2017
            Jul 14, 2017 at 4:05 PM

            Recruiting strategy has been mentioned here before. I believe it’s somewhat complicated. For whatever reason, Hoke threw all his ’13 DBs onto the field right away. No redshirts. (Wise/not, it’s in the past.) We have no 5th-year seniors in the defensive backfield. ’14 was a small class because ’12 and ’13 were huge (for many reasons, some RichRod-related). A so-so member (Watson) survives; another (Peppers) prospered as expected and went pro.

            ’15? It’s more similar to ’11 than ’08. In ’08 the transition was peaceful and orderly. RichRod didn’t have to deal with many defections. He added some good pieces (like Omameh). In ’11 and ’15 (not peaceful and orderly) Michigan had some harmful decommitments.

            Sorry — I had low expectations of Hoke in ’11 and Harbaugh in ’15. They had at best a few weeks to get classes together after the original ones got depleted through decommitments. I’d guess that numerous reaches would’ve been required to get numbers in certain area (like DB) up.

            That brings up to ’16. They took three guys (Metellus, Long, Hill) that were DBs for sure and two others (Evans and Hudson) with the “ATH” position who could have plausibly been DBs. (Hudson is to some small degree). Should they have taken more? I’d be open to that idea. But, they had other areas to address. I don’t think they took enough O-linemen and another interior lineman on defense would’ve been nice.

            Serious question: What would you have done differently as far as recruiting is concerned?

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 6285
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Jul 15, 2017 at 11:25 AM

              The short answer is allocate fewer scholarships to the offensive skill positions. Either TE or WR (maybe not both but certainly one of them) is getting too many relative to use. RB certainly as well. These are positions where we can lose multiple guys and still insert highly capable backups season in and season out. Meanwhile at OL and DB we are often grasping at straws: wishing on grad transfer saviors, counting on freshman, forsaking red-shirts to for hints of action in the name of preparing for NEXT season’s shortage and so on.

              The argument for this, I presume, is that it is what it takes to get a difference-maker at RB, WR, TE. I don’t agree the investment is worth the payoff. Moreover, I think it can be a hindrance in recruiting elite talent.

              At some point I intend to do a deeper dive into optimal scholarship allocation by position, relying heavily on recent experience at Michigan.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 48
    Joined: 1/2/2016
    Jul 14, 2017 at 7:31 AM

    I have to say I have been really disappointed that things did not work out for him due to injuries. I thought he could have been a deep threat and was disappointed with the move to corner.

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 1364
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jul 14, 2017 at 8:53 AM

    This seems way too high for Harris. He’s going to be the 7th of 7 CBs this fall, and new to the position to boot. I don’t see him making the field in anything but deep garbage time this season, and there may not be as much of that as last year. Maybe if he works really hard and gets it, he might see limited duty as a backup next year, but he will still be competing against the same 6 guys, plus a couple more.

    I have kind of a Freddy Canteen feeling about Harris. I just don’t think the position switch is going to change anything for him.

  4. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jul 14, 2017 at 12:08 PM

    I still can’t let go that Harris chose Izzo over Beilein for bball AND Hoke over Dantonio for fball. 0 for 2.

  5. Avatar
    Comments: 14
    Joined: 12/21/2016
    Jul 14, 2017 at 6:24 PM

    Harris also had a really nice catch against Maryland that was overturned on a weak offensive PI call. It was a flash of potential that has caused me to not give up hope on him yet. Odds are he never really works out but he still has a lot of potential. Sometimes the light clicks on late in careers. If his tryout at CB doesn’t work out he can always move back to WR and be a nice vertical threat in a 4 wide set.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Jul 15, 2017 at 11:27 AM

      This is his senior year. If the light is going to click on it will be at CB. Michigan is making a last gasp attempt to see if he can make a meaningful contribution at this level. If he doesn’t show promise, he’ll likely be headed for a grad transfer somewhere.

    • Painter Smurf
      Comments: 263
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      Painter Smurf
      Jul 15, 2017 at 11:48 AM

      Harris is going into his 4th year, so this is it. Unless he can work up to #3 CB, he ha no prayer for a fifth year in ’18. If the coaches were had any hope for this move, they would have made it prior to spring. It is a pure practice depth move at this point.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6285
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Jul 15, 2017 at 11:56 AM

        I think that it’s more than that. Harris is clearly a physically gifted kid – it’s just become clear after 3+ years that WR isn’t the right place. The best case scenario is still pretty good – a starting-caliber Big Ten corner a la Clark. Although, there’s probably less than a 10% chance that happens, it’s not off the table entirely.

        Michigan is giving the kid another chance in his (likely) last year. The alternative (keeping him at WR where he will certainly be buried) is less appealing.

        If we agree that a grad transfer is the most likely route, this year will tell us if he’ll play WR or CB at his next stop. Will be interesting to watch how it plays out.

You must belogged in to post a comment.