Michigan likes the look of Drake Harris at cornerback

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan’s Drake Harris is making the transition from wide receiver to cornerback.

Ann Arbor — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he didn’t know for sure if moving Drake Harris from receiver to cornerback in the offseason would be the right move, but so far, defensive coordinator Don Brown likes what he has seen through three preseason practices.

Harbaugh wants to take advantage of Harris’ height — he’s 6-foot-4 — and athleticism, considering he was an all-state basketball player while at Grand Rapids Christian. Harris has been plagued by hamstring issues since his senior year in high school and has seen limited play the last two seasons at Michigan.

Brown, when asked about the cornerbacks on Thursday, spoke first about Harris.

“Coach gave me an early birthday present or something, but Drake Harris had a nice interception yesterday,” said Brown, who, for the record, turned 62 on July 31. “I love those guys when they put their hands out and they’re nice and long, and then he goes out and high points the ball.

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“It’s fun to see. Hopefully he can continue to take steps, move forward, learn the concepts and play fast, because that’s the biggest piece. ‘OK, I know the concept,’ but it’s like mud, stammering around. It’s know, quick-twitch, move forward, make adjustments, technique, fundamentals, play fast, all those things.”

Harbaugh said during the Big Ten media days last week he was interested in seeing how Harris performs at corner once he gets “full hands-on coaching.”

“Didn’t know for sure (about moving him) and still don’t, but just the thought hit the brain and talked to Drake about it and said what do you think,” Harbaugh said. “And he asked why do I think that. I think, well, because you’re long, athletic, you’re a smooth runner, and that’s what NFL teams are looking for — 6-foot-3, 2-plus, 6-foot-4 corners, and he’s got that. He’s got that by birth.

“And there might be an opportunity there. Giving it a shot, that’s what we’re doing, giving it a shot. We don’t know for sure. I think he’s excited about it. I think he’s taken it and kind of running with it.”

Michigan will start a new secondary this fall, but Brown likes the talent he has at corner.

“Brandon Watson and Keith Washington and then you’ve got Lavert Hill, David Long, you’ve got the Ben St-Juste, you’ve got Drake. It goes on and on,” Brown said. “There’s a number of guys there and right now, we’re going to try to find out who the top two and really three guys are. Looking at Jaylen Kelly-Powell and seeing if he can help us in some of those packages, utilizing his coverage skills.

“All of those guys have a chance to be good.”