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April 22, 2013

Audio & More: Drake Harris on The Huge Show, Part I

Michigan class of 2014 wide receiver pledge Drake Harris and his father, Mike Harris, joined The Huge Show's Bill Simonson recently to talk about his recruitment, his U-M commitment and more.

Here's Part One ...

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Drake Harris, Part One

href=viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=126432>Drake Harris admitted what several knew - when he first pledged to Michigan State, head basketball coach Tom Izzo was the reason. He was planning on playing two sports at the time, and Izzo told him he'd never seen a point guard like him. He told him he could change him into a "Russell Westbrook [Oklahoma City Thunder] type point guard."

"Since Drake was in eighth grade he's gotten a lot of attention for basketball," Mike Harris said. "That took off for him. Everyone thought basketball would be his sport. He got his first offer from Tom Crean [Indiana] as an eighth grader. Crean said he liked him and he'd be the first eighth grader he offered - that he usually offered kids from Indiana first, so we were definitely very excited and happy about that.

"Of course, we were not going to make a decision way back then. After that he got better on the basketball court, continued to do well. He was top 30 in the country, and it took off from there. I continued to tell him, 'let's not throw all our eggs in one basket.' He played everything and excelled in everything."

Including baseball, for which Christian head coach and former Major Leaguer Brent Gates has continuously tried to recruit him. That didn't work.

Harris did (reluctantly) follow his father's advice to continue to play football, though he refused to join the varsity as a freshman. Even late in the year, when Christian's varsity was making a playoff run, Harris decided not to play up. He regretted it when Christian lost by a point to powerful East Grand Rapids.

"We kind of had a battle about playing both sports," Mike recalled with a laugh. "So has dad been right about sports? He'll tell you, 'you were right.

"Then his sophomore year he took off, exploded. He said, 'I'm glad I listened to you and continued to do both sports.'"

It was last summer that Harris realized football might be the better option. He pretty much knew after a playoff run in which he dominated the competition, setting state receiving records on the way to Ford Field for the state title. He called Izzo ("the hardest call I've ever had to make," he said) and also spoke to MSU head football coach Mark Dantonio. He still talks to Izzo, calling him a "Godfather."

Izzo told Harris he was happy for him and would continue to be there for him. A few months later, Harris de-committed from Michigan State. Several weeks after that, following a number of visits to Michigan and one to Ohio State, he became a Wolverine.

Turning Down Urban

It didn't happen overnight, of course. Being recruited by anybody and everybody had its positives and negatives, Harris said, but he knew Michigan was his future home after visiting both OSU and U-M on back-to-back days.

Harris knew he wanted to stay close to home, admitting the traditional Big Ten powers were his final two.

"Coming into the city, you could feel the love for it," Harris said of Columbus. "It's a huge city and a great campus. I was like, 'this is really nice.' They bring me in, show me around football facility - I sat down with Urban Meyer two hours straight, just me and him."

Meyer showed him all the rings he'd won, told him what he planned to do with him. He brought up Derrick Williams, the former No. 1 player in the country who ended up at Penn State a few years back when Meyer was at Florida, and told him he would have used Williams the way he used Percy Harvin.

"He was basically saying I should go somewhere that a coach would use my talent, put me in the best position to succeed," he said. "He talked about the offense they have, and how he's put his last seven receivers in the NFL."

Harris left with a smile, but no pledge. A day later, he was a Wolverine.

Watch for Part II on the Harris interview in the hours to come …


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