The highly decorated Michigan secondary was hit hard in the winter by the departures of a number of long-time contributors. Gone are starters Ernest Shazor, Marlin Jackson, and Markus Curry and in their places are a number of new faces looking to pick up where their predecessors left off. While there certainly are suitable replacement candidates returning, the Michigan staff is searching the type of depth that every coach clamors for. That leaves open an opportunity for an incoming freshman. Enter Dayton Chaminade Julienne's Brandon Harrison.
The five-foot nine-inch speedster was on campus earlier this spring and observers (including those from GoBlueWolverine) were taken aback by just how physically he prepared he already looks. While he may not have prototypical corner height, he is by no means small. He looked every bit the 195-lbs. he is listed at. Furthermore, his appearance suggests that he definitely isn't a stranger to the weight room. When you couple that with the fantastic measurables that he has (4.25 in the 40, a 4.28 sec. shuttle, a 37.3 inch vertical jump, and a 10.6 100 meter dash time), it's easy to see why there is a great deal of excitement about his potential.
Harrison's spring break offered him the opportunity to get to know his new football family a little better, and he made the most of it. "It was great," Harrison said. "I got learn a lot of stuff. I got to know the players and coaches real well. It was a great experience. I hung out with Hood, Charles Stewart, Chris Graham, Kevin Grady, Mike Hart, Ryan Mundy…I was staying with everybody."
Though he certainly had fun while in Ann Arbor, that wasn't what his trip was all about. If he is going to see the field in the fall, he needs to get to work on it early…a process that he started during his visit. "I went to all of the meetings, took notes, and got my binder (containing the various defenses)," Harrison said. "I also lifted weights with the guys on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On the days that they were hitting I was on the bike. Coach Carr told me that he was glad I was up there because they need me. He told me that I'll probably see the field next fall and be part of the rotation, so I was working very hard."
One of the most fulfilling experiences Harrison had while in town was learning about the defense from his future position coach. Michigan assistant Ron English was a well of information that Harrison was more than ready to drink from. "Aww man… he was great," Harrison exclaimed! "He is the smartest defensive backs coach I've ever seen. That includes all of the coaches I met on my visits. He just knows so much about the game. It's kind of scary. (laughing)" That, however, wasn't the only thing he found a little daunting.
The practice performances of a few of his future teammates definitely gave Harrison a glimpse of the differences between high school and college football. "On offense, I was really impressed with Mike Hart," Harrison said. "His vision is just unbelievable. He can get into the stickiest situations and then pop on the other side for a long run. On defense it was Chris Graham. Man, that guy hits like a train! He actually wears one of the numbers I wanted. I got number 27 while I was up there. My first choice (24) was taken by a running back and my second choice was 37. Graham has that one, and I wasn't even trying to take that big boy's number! (Laughing)
Once high school is over for Harrison, he will waste little time getting back to his new friends and new home in Ann Arbor. "I'll be leaving to go up there and stay this summer," he said. "I graduate May 31st, and a couple of days after that, I'm on my way up there."
In the meantime, the dual-sport star will likely lace up his track cleats and attempt to erase the disappointing state final performance he had last year. "I'm thinking about it," Harrison said regarding running track. "I'm going to track practice. I think my coach is trying to use me like a secret weapon. The more I think about it, the more I can't find a reason NOT to run. Fear of injury was part of it, but the only time you really have to worry about that is when you don't stretch properly. So I'll probably run. The state finals didn't go well for me last year. They had people holding our blocks and I couldn't figure out why they weren't in the ground. There was a girl holding my block, and when I kicked out, the block slid from under me. So I'm bear-crawling in eighth place before getting to my feet and getting up to sixth. By that time the race was done. But I did beat my school record with a 10.5 at the league meet."
With Harrison's work ethic, he just might set another school record this season.