Harris excited to face 'hometown' team

University of Louisville junior wide receiver Michaelee Harris is among the many players on the Cardinals roster that grew up hoping to one day play for Miami, but in the end chose to be a Cardinal over Hurricane.

As a senior at Miami Northwestern High School, Michaelee Harris was one of the most sought after prospects in the South Florida. A four-star wide receiver prospect, he had multiple scholarship opportunities to choose among, including one from the hometown Hurricanes.

Harris isn't alone, as more than two dozen Cardinals hail from the Miami area. A total of 40 players from the Sunshine State are present on the Louisville roster.

"Growing up in Florida, a lot of us wanted to be Hurricanes, so now we have this opportunity to play those guys," Harris said. "It's going to be a good atmosphere to play football."

The opportunity to face a hometown and tradition rich program immediately escalated the level of excitement for the post season for the Cardinals.

"There's a lot of excitement and enthusiasm," he continued. "There's a lot of energy because of being able to go back to Florida to play a team that everyone grew up watching. No matter where you grew up in the country, every body grew up watching the Hurricanes.

For Harris, it's an opportunity that was close to not happening. The junior has had to battle back from multiple knee injuries to get back on the field. After missing all of 2012, Harris returned to action in the season opener and has improved steadily throughout the season.

"It's a blessing," he told Cardinal Authority. "I'm happy that I'm back playing and able to run routes. I've been hearing from guys on the team that I look how I was before I got hurt, so it's good to be back and I thank God that he gave me the strength to do that."

He now prepares to face a Hurricane team that includes a handful of friends and former high school opponents on their roster.

"I know a couple guys that play defensive back for them," he said. "I played against them in high school. We are going to beat man coverage. They have some talented and physical guys."

Because of the many familiar faces, head coach Charlie Strong has warned that his team must limit the on the field 'trash-talking' and remain focused on the task at hand.

"He doesn't have to talk to us about that," Harris said. "That comes with the game. It's all about knowing how to focus and not let the talking become a distraction."

Louisville is aiming for a second consecutive bowl victory and just as last year, this game means more than finishing the season with a victory.

"There's a lot of things on the line," Harris explained. "When we go back home those guys don't forget the foundation we laid in high school. Those guys keep up with us and watch what we do on this level, as well as the next level, so when we play a team like Miami, another team those guys have in their top five when it comes to recruiting, that becomes a huge game for recruiting a lot of them."

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