Drake Harris played all sports while growing up at the Seidman Boys and Girls Club in Grand Rapids, Mich., where his father Mike was deployed as a Grand Rapids police officer, but basketball was his love. By the time Harris was in the eighth grade, he was already 6-3 and had a scholarship offer from Indiana coach Tom Crean.
“Basketball was always the biggest thing for me,” Harris said. “When I began high school, all I was thinking about was basketball.”
MORE: 2013 Preseason American Family Insurance ALL-USA Team
Grand Rapids Christian football coach Don Fellows had to talk Harris, then a freshman, into playing football as well as basketball.
“He was hemming and hawing over whether he should play football,” Fellows said. “His dad encouraged him to play both but he wasn’t dialed in as a football player. But, by his sophomore year, he ended up being first-team all-state in football. It clicked with him that football came naturally.”
Harris, now a 6-4, 180-pound senior wide receiver, is one of 24 members of the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Preseason Football Team. Last season, he was an all-state player in basketball and football. In basketball, he averaged 23 points a game, leading the Eagles to a state Class A semifinal berth. In football, he caught 91 passes for 23 touchdowns and a state-record 2,016 yards, helping his school win the state Division III title.
In March, Harris changed his mind about playing football and basketball at Michigan State, deciding instead to play football exclusively at Michigan.
“He was looking at how late the basketball season would run and making the switch between the sports would make it difficult to do both,” Mike Harris said. "Every coach we've dealt with in his recruitment has been a positive experience, though he's taken a little heat from Michigan State fans since he changed his mind."
Harris made the decision while on a visit to Ann Arbor with his father.
“Growing up, going to Michigan games, it was a dream come true to play for coach (Brady) Hoke,” Harris said. “It was kind of funny when I told my dad, because we were on a visit to Michigan when I decided. We were sitting at breakfast when I told him and he kind of had a big grin on his face, but he was keeping it kind of quiet. I’m a big Michigan fan, but he’s been a Michigan fan since he was little.”
It was a little harder breaking the news to Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo.
“That was really hard, especially telling Coach Izzo because he was the first college coach to really recruit me,” Harris said. “He was very understanding and wished me good luck.”
Because the Eagles have other offensive options, Harris, with a 40-inch vertical leap, can be a nightmare to cover.
“Everybody in our conference (the Ottawa-Kent Conference) has their own philosophy on how to play Drake,” Fellows said. “It’s really difficult for guys to focus on him. We have four other really good skill kids. We run a system similar to Ohio State’s with multiple formations. Last year, we used 100 formations, so it’s a pretty complicated system. On any given play, he may have three or four option routes.”