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Michael Harrison’s journey from walk-on WR to Colorado star

Michael Harrison’s journey from walk-on WR to Colorado star
Colorado Buffaloes tight end Michael Harrison has gone from relatively unknown walk-on wideout to standout tight end following his breakout seven-catch, two touchdown game Saturday night. (Credit: Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

BOULDER, Colo. (BVM) – Colorado Buffaloes tight end Michael Harrison was mostly unknown outside of the locker room entering the 2023 season. A former wide receiver, Harrison switched over to the tight end room following injuries at the position in the preseason. Though the coaches believed in Harrison, he still entered the year as an afterthought to Buffalo fans and the football world as a whole.

That all changed Saturday night. Harrison was one of the star players for Colorado during the team’s 43-35 double overtime win over rival Colorado State as he hauled in the game-tying two-point conversion near the end of regulation as well as the team’s two overtime touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound redshirt junior finished the game with seven catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns, all career highs.

Even one of the greatest tight ends in history gave Harrison a shoutout for his performance.

It has been an unique and emotional journey for the new star. At St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco, Harrison initially didn’t play much football, rather he excelled on the track. During his track career, Harrison participated in the 100-meters, 330-meter hurdles, long jump, high jump and triple jump which included personal bests of 11.98 seconds in the 100-meters, 47.49 in the 300-meter hurdles, 5 feet, 4 inches in the high jump, 20-2 in the long jump and 40-2.5 in the triple jump.

However, during his senior year in 2019, Harrison decided to give football a go which helped his Wildcats immensely. Though statistics aren’t available for Harrison’s season, his impact can be seen on film as the lanky wideout’s leaping ability is on full display. With Harrison in the fold, the Wildcats ended up winning a share of the West Catholic League championship, the program’s first since 2006.

Despite his lack of experience on the gridiron, Harrison did receive some attention from programs, earning an offer from D-III University of Puget Sound. This made Harrison’s announcement that he committed to Colorado as a preferred walk-on all the more surprising given his lack of experience in the sport and relatively quiet season.

However, once in Boulder, Harrison quickly worked his way up the ladder to earn the respect of coaches. Following a redshirt freshman season, the wideout played in all 12 games of the 2021 season exclusively on special teams, but recorded no stats. Last year, Harrison again played in all 12 games mostly special teams, but did record two catches for 12 yards.

Michael Harrison Colorado Buffaloes football Mikey Harrison Colorado Buffs football
CU football’s junior tight end Michael Harrison (87) hauls in a touchdown in overtime against CSU in the Rocky Mountain Showdown on Sept. 16, 2023 at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo. (Credit: Cris Tiller/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Through it all, Harrison kept a positive attitude and showed a willingness to do whatever it took to help his team win on game day.

“Man, I might cry,” Harrison told “Thee Pregame Show” after the team’s season opening upset win over TCU. “I’ve been here so long, it just feels so good to win tonight. We worked so hard. I love this. I’m so happy.”

This effort did not go unnoticed as Harrison’s former offensive coordinator and interim head coach, Mike Sanford, heaped praise on him following his breakout game.

From unknown to starlet overnight, Harrison has certainly earned his time in the spotlight. Now, it will be up to the junior to maintain his level of play after teams take notice and key in on trying to stop him. Given the dedication he’s shown to his craft and the success he’s already achieved, don’t expect the hardworking tight end to slow down now.