In this installment of the Recruit Notebook, we meet an undervalued and undersized speedster who will run by defenders in the blink of an eye: WR Mike Harley.
Like many South Florida kids, Mike Harley has been aware of the Miami Hurricanes for a long time. With family members who are famously Canes fans, this makes sense. As Harley moved into HS, and looked like he might have the ability to be a D1 player, Miami was a team that was reportedly at the top of his wishlist.
But, you don’t always get what you want. It’s been well chronicled that the previous Canes staff, obsessed with height, would not offer shorter players. That means that dynamic 5’9” guys like CB Trajan Bandy and WR Mike Harley didn’t get UM scholarship offers, even though they wanted them badly.
In light of this, Harley committed to a team that has had a good history of recruiting offensive skill players in South Florida: West Virginia. The Mountaineers, pitching immediate playing time in their pass-heavy offense, got Harley to commit and thus ended the story.
Or so we thought.
Miami’s new coaching staff — yes, they’re still “new” in this story, since most scholarship offers to top players go out in their Junior seasons — made the choice, as they did with Bandy, to finally offer Harley a scholarship in November 2016. Obviously, that offer put Miami in the game with Harley, and the Canes engaged in a tough recruiting battle against WVU to secure his services.
After Harley took an Official Visit to Coral Gables on January 13th, things were trending up for Miami. Still committed to WVU at the time, Harley then traveled to Morgantown the next weekend. While on his visit, things became clear that Harley would NOT be taking his talents to WVU, which was confirmed by a decommitment immediately following the visit. Some WVU fans have pushed the narrative that the Mountaineers revoked Harley’s scholarship offer, but that’s just words to save face. They knew he wasn’t coming, so they tried to be reactionary and make it seem like the school, instead of the player, initiated the parting of ways.
In any event, Harley took an Unofficial visit to Miami on January 25th, and that ostensibly sealed the deal. Harley committed to Miami just days later, giving the Canes another speedy WR in the 2017 class.
As far as on-field accomplishments, there have been plenty for Harley. He dominated the spring/summer camp series, he was the leading receiver for 7A State Champion Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas, and he was uncoverable at U.S. Army All-American Week. Harley was 1st team All-State in Florida’s 7A classification, and an All-American, as I previously mentioned.
So yeah, he’s kind of good.
On the 247sports composite, Thomas is a e-star prospect, the #51 WR in this class, the #46 player in the State of Florida, and the #357 player in this class overall. There are EASY arguments for Harley being rated higher, but I won’t engage in those now. Suffice it to say that I think he should be rated as a 4-star.
Harley committed to Miami over 27 other offers including West Virginia, UCLA, Utah, Louisville and Michigan.
Harley as a Player
The thing that is the foundation of Harley’s game is his speed. He’s incredibly fast, and can get to top speed in just a few steps. Harley can easily blow past DBs in man-to-man situations, even if the DB gives Harley a cushion. Because of that elite speed, DBs have 2 options: try to jam him, or give him PLENTY of cushion, so they’re not left in the dust.
Harley is more than just a straight line speedster. He runs crisp routes, and sets his moves up so they look similar, making it even harder for DBs to get a read on what he’s doing and where he’s going. You don’t believe me about these first 2 paragraphs. Fine. Here’s a video for proof: (Also, can we laugh at the tweet text? WVU gotta be SICK they lost this kid)
On top of having blazing speed and crisp routes, Harley has very good hands. He is rarely seen dropping passes, which is obviously a good thing to say about a WR.
A negative about Harley is his height and build. Harley is 5’9” 155-160lbs, so he’s not the biggest player in the world. He could get overwhelmed by physical press coverage...if the DB can get their hands on him. He’ll never be a skyscraper either, so finding ways to get Harley the ball (put him in the slot on a Nickel DB or LB or S, rinse repeat) will be at a premium.
Harley has played at a top tier program, against top tier competition, and excelled. He had 5 catches for 133 yards and 2 TDs in Aquinas’ 7A State Championship victory, so he’s not just an empty stat accumulator. This kid can play. Period.
Miami has been looking for speedy WRs since Mark Richt first got hired, and before then too, if we’re being honest. Harley runs good routes, as great top end speed, steady hands, and can be an impact player in the kick and punt return games as well.
Chances for a redshirt: 1/10
Harley is going to come in and likely have a role on the Canes’ offense. I put this as a 1/10 chance for a RS because he needs to develop physically to maximize his talents at the collegiate level. But, like other slender speedsters in the history of CFB, that only matter if you can catch Harley. Few people can, so he’s going to play this year for Miami.
That’s it for this installment of the Recruit Notebook.