Michalee Harris has waited four years for this. Although the redshirt junior has been a part of the Louisville team since 2010 (a stretch that has seen three previous postseason appearances), he will be playing in his first bowl game on Saturday night.
In Harris’ first year on campus, he sat out the entire season due to injury. The next season, he was tied for third all-time in receptions and ranked fifth in receiving yards among freshmen wide receivers in school history. He finished second on team with 37 receptions and 455 yards and tied for second on team with two receiving touchdowns. But a week before the 2011 Belk Bowl, Harris tore his ACL. After an offseason of recovery, another ACL injury in fall camp kept him on the sideline for the entire 2012 season, including the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl.
“I’m so grateful for this game,” Harris said. “It’s been tough being on the team and missing the big games due to injury. But the fact that my first bowl game will be against my home team it makes it even more special.”
Harris played at Miami Northwestern High School, where he won a state championship in 2007. He played alongside Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater at Northwestern, along with a number of others players on the rosters of both teams.
“I’m not going to lie to you guys, I’m a Hurricane at heart,” Harris said. “I know how big this game is and I’m a Louisville Cardinal first. It feels good, I’m motivated right now.”
The Miami-Dade area is a big recruiting bed for head coach Charlie Strong and the Cardinals as he has 23 players from the Miami-Dade area. While in high school Harris was recruited by the University of Miami along with Louisville.
“They were my first offer in high school,” Harris said. “We sent a lot of guys from my high school to the University of Miami and I didn’t think going there would be a good choice. Turns out I made a great choice by coming to Louisville.”
Harris went on to rattle off numerous players he knew from Miami and how there was some extra motivation for Louisville because of all the connections.
“Of course there will be extra motivation for Miami as well,” Harris said. “I got to go home for a couple of days over the break and that’s all everyone was talking about down there.”