Drake Harris had big plans for his senior campaign… hone his receiver skills, put up more eye-popping stats, win another state title… basically to finish his high school career with a bang. Unfortunately the football gods had a different plan… one that kept the four-star wideout from taking the field at all this season.
“It was really hard with it being my senior year and then having my teammates out there without me. I had a pretty bad injury at the beginning of the season,” Harris said. 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. I’m still doing that right now but I feel a lot better. If we were still in the playoffs I’d be playing. I was looking to come back, but unfortunately we ended up losing. Hopefully it is a lot better now so I’ll be good.”
Harris’ season-long absence was made even more trying by a growing contingent of naysayers around his hometown. Questions about his toughness and his commitment to his team ramped up as the season unfolded, but the talented youngster ignored the chatter and kept his eye on his recovery as he prepares for his early enrollment at Michigan in a few short weeks.
“I think that people wanted to see me out there,” said Harris. “There’s always doubters and haters around. They say whatever and try to bring you down. But I just took it as it was and just used it as motivation. I know that my injury was true. And my teammates and my coaches all knew that. I just couldn’t really listen to the outsiders chipping in. I just had to try to get back.”
“(The doctors) told me that I’d probably be 100 percent a couple weeks before I even get on campus. By the time I get on campus I’ll be 100 percent. Right now I think I’ll be 100 percent by at least next week or the week after that. I’m going hard ion the weight room and everything and running and stuff. I feel like it was bad for me to sit out this whole year with this whole injury, it sucked. But I think that from me going to see all these doctors and rehabbing it, I think that I’m going to come back a lot better.”
While Harris has been focused on returning to form, so too has his future team. As was the case for him, Michigan’s struggles have spawned doubters as well. The Maize &Blue’s naysayers have questioned whether Brady Hoke & company will be able to hang on to their current crop of commits. For his part Harris says he has an answer.
“Our whole class, we have like a little group so we talk every day,” he stated. ”No one’s really worried. We all were like, ‘the line that we have right now is really young… that we’re just building… we are improving every game.’ They’re struggling a little bit. Second to quarterback the toughest position to play on the field is offensive line. So I know that they’ll get better. I’m not really worried about it. This year [they] might have a little down year. Next year with getting everyone in and having some of those offensive linemen out there playing at a younger age, next year they’ll come out and play a lot better and the whole team will be a lot better. No one is worried. We know who we have coming in and what’s already there. With all of us combined, we know that we’ll have a great team."
“Some coaches have tried to call me in the summer time but I told all of them that I’m done with the whole recruitment and I’m happy where I’m going.”
Harris is so focused on his getting ready for his days in Ann Arbor that he no longer plans to participate in the Under Armour All American game.
“He just wants to make sure his hamstring is 100%,” Harris’ father said. “We sat down and talked and he doesn’t want to take (any) chances. He going to keep rehabbing so he is ready when he gets (to Michigan). "
On meeting Dave Brandon on his last visit: “It was nice. I’d never met him. They brought me in to talk to him and we had a good talk. Meeting him was a great experience. I just had a good time talking to him. He was more just trying to get to know me. He said he’d heard about me and he’s talked about me, but he’d never met me. So he just kind of wanted to meet me, and same with me towards him. I wanted to meet him and talk to him. We just had a good talk about the school and about the program. “
On the rumor that the Michigan coaches told him not to play this season: “No, that’s not true at all. What they told me was [to] come back when I’m ready and when I feel like you can go.”
On the rumor that he considered flipping back to Michigan State: “(Laughter) No. I don’t know where people come up with all this stuff. “
On the rumor that he planning to visit Alabama: “That’s definitely not true. I’m done with the whole recruiting process. The only official visits I’ll be taking are to Ann Arbor.”