The Hype Builds: After Brady Hoke’s hot start at Michigan, the program's fortunes were looking up. The Wolverines finished the 2011 regular season 10-2 and topped it off with a Sugar Bowl win vs. Virginia Tech. It was that summer that highly-touted recruit Drake Harris from Grand Rapids Christian visited a camp at the University of Michigan and the battle for the in-state 247Sports Class of 2014 All-American began in earnest.
Surprisingly, Harris committed to Michigan State in June 2012, a critical blow to the Hoke's’ attempt to overtake Mark Dantonio in the schools' backyard recruiting scene. Especially damaging, the No. 1 and No. 2 in-state recruits in the 2014 class would go elsewhere, No. 1 Malik McDowell to Michigan State and No. 2 Damon Webb to Ohio State.
But while Dantonio eagerly awaited his class, Hoke swooped in and convinced Harris to decommit from the Wolverines’ rival in March 2013. Michigan was coming off of a 7-6 season, which indicates the strength of the brand.
That fall, Harris went on to set a state record for most receiving yards in a season with 2,016 yards. This was great news for a Hoke-led team that was beginning its descent into mediocrity. Gaining a top 10 wide receiver in the country was a spark that could light the offense on fire in the coming years.
Before Harris enrolled, he collected further accolades, such as Preseason High School Mr. Football and MaxPreps Preseason All-American. The Wolverines and their fans primed for a star receiver to step into the spotlight. Although he missed his senior season due to injury, a talent so awesome would surely heal and become a difference maker his freshman year.
At Michigan: While Harris did enroll in January of 2014, he didn’t see the field until 2015 due to a lingering hamstring injury. He persevered through the tumultuous coaching change from Hoke to Jim Harbaugh, and in fact should have benefitted from it. But the famed recruit posted a mere 39 receiving yards his debut season for the Wolverines in 2015 - Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh were the main receiving targets, recording 50 and 58 receptions, respectively.
In the years that followed, Harris recorded 11 and 10 yards in 2016 and 2017 on three total catches. And when he was passed by freshmen on the depth chart, such as Kekoa Crawford and Donovan Peoples-Jones, it became quite clear if he wanted to play, transferring was the only option.
Was The Hype Real: Harris announced his graduate-transfer to Western Michigan in time for the 2018 regular season. He recorded 255 receiving yards and one touchdown in his final year of eligibility with the Broncos.
Unfortunately for Harris, his pre-collegiate distinctions outnumber his accolades earned on the field by, seemingly, a ratio of 100:1. Even at Western Michigan, he was relegated to the second string, surpassed by freshmen Jayden Reed and D’Wayne Eskridge.
When Harris first entered the NCAA arena the hype surrounding the Grand Rapids native was in the highest stratosphere. Unfortunately, his early-career injury seemed to derail him and he never seemed to find his groove, first in Hoke’s offense and then in Harbaugh’s.
This article is one in a series looking at Wolverines that created tremendous hype either on the recruiting trail or early in their careers, looking back on whether they fulfilled such lofty expectations.
Rashan Gary - coming soon
Shane Morris - coming soon