Just a little bit over a month ago, Demetrius Harris was wrapping up his collegiate basketball career at UW-Milwaukee. After this season, Harris has no eligibility left at UWM and he was set to released into the real world with the education he obtained at the Milwaukee university.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Harris' stock has skyrocketed in the past couple of weeks. A few months ago, If you were to say that this 6-foot-5, 237 pound forward would have professional scouts looking at in late-April, you would think organizations like the Milwaukee Bucks, Washington Wizards and Orlando Magic would be in attendance. Instead, Harris traded in his sneaks for pads and spikes and he is going full steam ahead for NFL scouts as the NFL Draft begins this Thursday.
A little bit about Harris: Again, he is a 6'5, 237 power forward that spent the last four years trying his hand at basketball. He was an All-State basketball player and won a state championship at Jacksonville High School, in Jacksonville, Arkansas. In addition to his success on the court, he was also a highly-touted football player in high school as a tight end. He once signed to play football at Arkansas State before opting to pursue basketball.
After a disappointing 8-24 season last year with UW-Milwaukee, UWM basketball coach Rob Jeter received a call from the Kansas City Chiefs, who were inquiring about his desire to play football. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, former Packers scout, now Chiefs GM John Dorsey was told about Harris two years ago at an Arkansas all-star game. Dorsey kept Harris in mind and here we are. You can read the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's story on that here.
But hey, we can get scoops too. Tex recently had an Q & A with A.J. Hawk and now I have had the honor of spending some time at Harris' UWM pro day last Saturday. Basically, I was a scout for a day.
Scouts from the Dolphins, Browns, Ravens, Vikings, Cowboys, Bills and Jaguars all made it out to UWM's pro day to check out the intriguing tight end prospect. (The fact that UWM, a mid-major Division I university without a football program has an NFL pro day is beyond amazing.) Harris began his day with the scouts taking his measurements. An arm length of 34 1/4 inches and wingspan of 82 3/4 in. Harris also clocked a vertical jump of 36 1/2 inches and a broad jump of 10-2.
The footwork and conditioning that was required during his basketball years paid off big time for Harris as he ran a 40-yard dash time 4.57, followed by a 4.62. While those aren't the best numbers, they are still very impressive and better than some more notable tight ends such as Stanford's Zach Ertz and Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert. In fact, Harris' 40 was better than most ends in this year's draft.
After doing suicides and some cone drills for the NFL scouts, Harris ran some routes and caught some passes. His hands were very good and he showed the scouts that he would be a big target out on the field. Overall, many of the scouts seemed impressed as they looked around at one another as Harris caught ball after ball.
While Demetrius Harris isn't probably going to be a picked in the first two days, he certainly has potential to be a big steal for some team looking to fill a hole at tight end with someone who was an all-state talent back in high school. His time away from the game and missing out on football on that next level might work against him but Harris himself told me that he is confident that he can pick up where he left off on the gridiron.
So far, Harris has drawn some interest for over ten NFL teams. He seemed to impress and like everybody else, he is waiting to see if his name will be called either as a draft pick or as a sign on. Some of the biggest stars at the tight end position were successful at basketball. Only time will tell if Demetrius Harris could emerge as one of the big undiscovered tight end talents. It is possible that the next Antonio Gates could be emerging right before our very eyes.