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Michigan's Harris geared up for injury-free season

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan wide receiver Drake Harris

Ann Arbor — Michigan receiver Drake Harris has had significant problems with his hamstrings and more recently had to deal with an injured ankle.

There’s nothing wrong with his ears and eyes, though.

He’s heard and seen comments that have questioned whether he will ever fulfill the promise he had while at Grand Rapids Christian. An injury to his right hamstring eliminated his senior season in high school, and then he arrived at Michigan and suffered an injury to his left hamstring.

Harris heard the whispers — Will he ever be healthy? Can his body handle the college game?

Last season before the Minnesota game, Harris was slowed by an ankle injury.

“There’s always going to be a chip on my shoulder,” Harris said Thursday night after practice. “There’s always people that are doubting. Obviously with all the injuries that I did have my freshman year, (it’s) just going to be out there and proving people wrong.”

He missed one day of spring ball while the team was in Florida because of the norovirus, but the redshirt sophomore feels healthy and is working on improving his strength.

Harris is a lithe 6-foot-4 and is gradually adding weight and muscle. He played at 175 pounds last season, currently weighs 182 and wants to bulk up to 190 to 195 pounds by the start of the season.

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“I just have a fast metabolism,” he said. “I put on, like, eight pounds after the season ended.”

While speed, jumping ability and athleticism have always been his best qualities, Harris knows he has to add strength. He’s spends a lot of time doing squats to strengthen his legs.

“I rely on speed and my quickness to get off line,” Harris said. “Adding more strength will help me get defenders off me and help with my blocking.

“I’ve got to put on 10 more pounds before this season starts. Just being out there and not having any injuries has helped me too, because by playing, it helps you become a better player. Just learning more and more every day.”

Since December, a week after the Ohio State game, Harris said he’s been injury-free. And with receiver Jehu Chesson, the team’s MVP last season, on the sideline this spring rehabbing a leg injury, Harris is making good use of the additional reps in practice.

“Yeah, it’s an opportunity,” he said. “If someone’s out, the next person has to step up. I feel like I’ve been doing that.”

Timing was an issue early last season with graduate-transfer quarterback Jake Rudock and the receivers. By the end of the season, that timing was there. Harris said timing has not been an issue for the receivers and quarterbacks this spring — it remains a competition among the quarterbacks for the starting job.

Harris said he’s had a good spring, finally showing what he can do when he’s healthy.

“Battling adversity, that’s something I’ve dealt pretty good with,” Harris said. “The injuries sucked. Just crossing my fingers, praying with God. I just feel like i[m over with all the injuries. Knock on wood, I’m injury-free and I’m happy to be out there just playing.”

angelique.chengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter @chengelis