football

Harris will play both at MSU

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Two questions have followed Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian two-sport athlete Drake Harris since he started his high school career - which sport will he play, and which college will he attend? By making one of those choices on Wednesday, the class of 2014 prospect did not have to decide on the second.
Harris announced Wednesday night at a press conference at his school that he would be attending Michigan State University to play both football for head coach Mark Dantonio and basketball for head coach Tom Izzo. It was Izzo who was among those encouraging him to give both a try.
"When Izzo came this year and saw me play football, he told me, 'You've got to keep playing football,'" Harris said. "He told me he is okay with me playing both sports and he likes players who play football too because of the toughness part."
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Harris is a guard on the basketball court and a wide receiver on the football field. He had offers from Division I programs in both sports, but narrowed his choices down to Michigan State, Michigan and Notre Dame before announcing for the Spartans on Wednesday.
No one doubts Harris has Division I ability in both football and basketball, but the list of players who have successfully played both sports effectively in college is short. Harris understands that, but is confident he can be one of those unique few.
"There are always going to be doubters, so I have to keep working," Harris said. "I'll be in the gym still, working on my jump shot and ball-handling. Izzo said he wouldn't hold anything against me from the football standpoint if I was coming in late and playing. You just have to go out, get yours and earn playing time like that."
It was a trip to East Lansing for the Izzo Shootout this past weekend that crystallized the decision in Harris' mind.
"Going down to State, I was thinking about committing this week sometime," Harris said. "Then, once I got down there and talked to Izzo, I was 100 percent sure that I wanted to go to State.
"He just talked to me about the family there. He said it is a family structure and Izzo and Dantonio are not going to be leaving anytime soon. I believe that they will be there when I am there and years on. It's only 45 minutes away and my family can come watch me anytime too."
The decision to pursue both football and basketball in college was also approached with research and deliberation, and an earlier trip to East Lansing also helped give him clarity on that topic.
"I talked to Dion Sims when I was down at Michigan State for one of their basketball games," Harris said. "He said what Coach Izzo and Coach Dantonio told him before he got there about how they would make the process easier for him going from football to basketball - he said that was all true. They stuck to their word.
"He said it is a little tough and does take a lot of time, but I believe I can do it."
Basketball has always been Harris' first love, and he entered high school with the plan to focus on that sport and leave football behind. But Izzo's prompting, and the guidance and development he has received from his head coach at Christian, Don Fellows, gave him the passion and the confidence to pursue both sports through high school and into college.
Per NCAA rules, Harris will be on a football scholarship if he does play both sports at Michigan State. He now faces a challenge few have been able to master in trying to play both football and basketball at the highest levels of the sports, but first the rising junior has two more years of high school and four more prep seasons of his favorite two sports to play.
"It's good to get this all off my back," Harris said. "I know where I am going now, so I am happy that the process is over. I can focus on my schoolwork, get better everyday and go to State in a couple years."
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