4-star wide receiver Drake Harris is one of the most coveted recruits in the state of Michigan, and even though he's currently committed to the Michigan State Spartans, it appears as if the Wolverines are making a strong push.
This could spell the beginning of the end for Michigan State in regards to Harris' commitment.
While Mark Dantonio and the Spartans have built up a very respectable program that has been more than competitive in football the past few years, the big factor that could really impact Harris' recruitment is that he has decided to just play football. Before, he was considered a two-sport athlete, and the prospect of playing basketball and football at Michigan State had to undoubtedly be a big draw.
The Spartans lose a ton of that draw on just the strength of their football program minus basketball, and that statement is multiplied when considering the prestige and potential that Michigan's football program possesses.
To make matters worse for Michigan State, Harris recently took a visit to Michigan, and it was one that reportedly went very well. Chris Balas of TheWolverine.com quotes Harris' father on the trip:
"With Denard there, they were running first, passing second," Mr. Harris said. "Last year, you could see how the transition was with Gardner. You could see him throwing the ball a lot more down the field. They showed Drake how they would use him, cut up his high school film and stuff - they were actually showing him on the screen, and that really opened his eyes. He said, 'Wow - they are showing me where I would be,' bringing out his clips from high school and comparing their offense to what he runs."
He went on to talk about the impression that head coach Brady Hoke made, per Balas:
"He's a straight-up-type guy," he said. "He is what he is, no façade or anything like that. He just comes across like real guy. He talked about how he really wanted Drake, and it was nice to hear that from him. [Hecklinski and Borges], too, told him they thought he was a special kid and they really wanted him to come to Michigan."
Finally, Mr. Harris talked about his son's commitment, via Balas' report:
"He wants to go and make sure his 'I's are dotted and the 'T's crossed, make sure the school he decides to go to is the right fit in every way, from an athletic and academic standpoint," Mr. Harris said. "He's not going to be one of those kids who keeps committing and de-committing. The first time he committed he thought he was going to play both football and basketball, and now it's football only.
"If Michigan State turns out to be the best fit for him, that's where he'll go. But he's going to look around make sure [he] does his homework on all the teams to make sure he finds that right fit. It's the biggest decision he's ever going to have to make right now, so why not take your time?"
One would be naive and/or in denial to not see that Michigan has a great chance to get a flip from Harris. He could still stay in-state, and the allure of Michigan football is undeniable.
The Spartans have had the edge for the past few seasons, but Hoke changed that this year with a win in Ann Arbor, and the program is trending in a very positive direction. Part of that has to do with Michigan's prestige on the recruiting trail—and specifically Hoke's abilities as a recruiter—and some of it can be attributed to Michigan's slow, but steady transition to the pro-style offense.
Therein lies the key to flipping Harris.
Unlike the Denard Robinson era, the pro-style set will feature a quarterback that can throw the ball in a premier fashion. The running game will still be featured, but it will take on a whole new look with more power sets and downhill running schemes, and going vertical in the passing game will be an emphasis.
Devin Garner showed us that he can be an effective pocket passer in 2012, but the finality of this transition will be marked by 4-star quarterback Shane Morris' presence in the starting lineup. Morris is the perfect pro-style quarterback recruit, and he has the talent to be an elite quarterback for Michigan.
He'll also be able to throw the ball downfield with the best of them in college football, and that has to be a major point to bring up with Harris.
Harris is ranked as the No. 5 wide receiver in the 2014 class, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings, and he checks in at 6'4'', 180 pounds. He has the potential to be a deep threat because of his size and abilities, and he could provide Morris with a legitimate vertical target.
That's the one thing this era of Michigan football has been lacking so far, and Harris could join the likes of Braylon Edwards and Mario Manningham in the discussion of elite vertical threats in recent Michigan history. At the very least, he has the potential to be in that discussion.
Add in a running back like 5-star recruit Derrick Green, who will force the secondary to respect the run and will pull defenders up into the box, and Michigan's future appears to be incredibly bright offensively.
A top-notch receiver like Harris could really stand out in Michigan's new offensive scheme, and considering the national attention Michigan football garners, that means Harris could stand out on the national stage. Throw in the potential to compete for the Big Ten championship and maybe even more on a yearly basis—and there's not much to dislike about Michigan football.
Frankly, the Spartans are going to have a hard time holding onto Harris if all of those factors come into play, and that's considering the fact that Dantonio is a great recruiter himself, and his program should still be competitive in the Big Ten.
It's also worth noting that Michigan, Ohio State, Florida, Georgia and Notre Dame are all considered to be equal with the Spartans on Harris' interest list, per Balas' report, and he is considered a "soft verbal" by Rivals.com.
Either way you look at it, the Spartans have their work cut out for them if they want to keep Harris committed.