Harrison Back in the Mix

Michigan soph. defensive back Brandon Harrison was one of the standout freshman performers last season, but he didn't see much game action during the first couple of contests in 2006. Over the past two games, though, the talented sophomore is back to his playmaking ways. Harrison took the time to chat with GBW about his role on the defense, the impact of def. coordinator Ron English, and more.

When Brandon Harrison first arrived in Ann Arbor as 5-8 190 pound freshman last year, many thought his Michigan career would be spent playing corner.  However, injuries at the safety position precipitated a preseason move to the middle of the field.  There, the diminutive defensive back thrived…playing in all twelve contests and starting in four.  His strong frosh performance, in which he registered 24 tackles, one fumble recovery, two interceptions and four pass breakups, put him in line to play a significant role on the Maize and Blue defense in 2006.

During the offseason, however, Harrison was asked to make another move…this time to corner.  Then when the season rolled around he saw limited playing time in the first two contests.  For a youngster that thought he'd figure so prominently into the defensive plans, the lack of game action could have been frustrating.  That, though, was not the case for Harrison.  The coaching staff made it a point to reassure him about his importance to the unit.

"I was fine," Harrison said regarding how he felt after not playing much in games one and two.  "Coach E told me that he was going to get me on the field…that I was going to HAVE to be on the field.  Basically my parents, myself, and Coach E kept me from getting down.  I just kept my head up and kept going hard in practice…showing the coach I could play."

In week three versus Notre Dame, English made good on his word, naming Harrison one of five starters in the defensive backfield.  The talented sophomore took advantage of the opportunity, registering six tackles and one quarterback hurry.

"They just wanted to put as much speed as they could on the field, I guess," said Harrison.  "I'm just out here having fun, trying to do things right. It was fun.  I just wanted to get that sack.  I was trying to kill (Brady Quinn)! (Laughing)."

Harrison was again the nickel DB versus Wisconsin last week, and that role has called on him to put his cover skills on display.  Even though he is spending the majority of his time at corner these days, he still is responsible for staying up on the safety position as well.

"I'm still learning corner, but I'm also still learning some safety just in case some things happen during the season," Harrison explained.  "I'm learning both positions and all the underneath stuff too.  In high school I played corner against passing teams, but when we played a running team I played safety.  It's hard, but it's fun at the same time. It helps me out.  Last year I ran safety and I didn't really know what the corners did.  Now that I've run a little corner and I know what they do, so it's easier to play."

Harrison has no objections about playing either position, but if given the choice, his preference is clear.

"I do like the safety position," he said.  I like coming downhill smashing on people."

That desire to "smash" on the opposition fits right in with Wolverines new defensive scheme.  According to Harrison, that mentality has become prevalent under English.

"We play with a little bit more violence," Harrison said.  "It's just being able to finish teams off.  Last year we lacked that when it came to finishing teams off.  We're really just putting a choke hold on people and squeezing them out now."

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