TEMPE – After a standout three-year career at Arizona State, junior wide receiver N’Keal Harry announced Monday he will forgo his senior season and enter the 2019 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-4, 213-pound receiver is projected as a potential first-round pick.
“First of all, I would like to say thank you to everybody in Sun Devil nation, the coaches, my teammates, all the media, all the fans,” Harry said at a news conference. “This has been a great ride. This has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, something that I will take with me for the rest of my life.
“With that being said, I would like to forgo my senior season and declare for the 2019 NFL Draft.”
With a 7-5 record, the Sun Devils have qualified for a postseason bowl game, and the former Chandler High standout did not rule out playing in it. Bowl selections will be announced Sunday, and ASU coach Herm Edwards said Harry will practice.
“He’s going to prepare to play in the bowl game,” Edwards said. “We’ll discuss that.”
Although Harry seemed destined for the NFL from the day he stepped on campus and began producing a steady supply of highlight plays nearly every football Saturday, the decision to leave behind teammates and a fan base was not one he took lightly.
“This definitely was not an easy decision,” he said. “I truly grew up at this university. This place has given me opportunities I only dreamt of, and I’m forever thankful for that.”
Harry was 4 when he left the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent for Arizona with his grandmother, Felna, who was there for Monday’s announcement at Sun Devil Stadium.
Harry began his high school career at Marcos de Niza High in Tempe before transferring to Chandler, which won a football state championship in 2014. He was one of the most highly touted recruits in the nation and rated as the top recruit in Arizona by multiple scouting publications.
With Oregon and Texas A&M among his suitors, Harry chose to stay home, in part, to remain close to his grandmother.
“It was 100 percent worth it,” Harry said of his decision on ASU. “This state has given me so much. Being just a kid from a small island, ending up in Arizona. … This state means the world to me.”
ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins, who also attended Monday’s news conference, connected with Harry countless times during the past three seasons on the field, but above all else, he thanked Harry for his friendship off the field.
“So proud of you, so proud of the work you put in,” Wilkins said. “You changed my life. One of my best friends.”
Wilkins didn’t hold back on what he believed Harry’s legacy will be at Arizona State.
“You’ll go down as a legend here,” he said.
Harry accumulated 213 receptions, 2,899 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns, catching a pass in every game during his career at ASU.
His receiving yards and receptions rank third in school history, but Edwards also praised Harry for his leadership on and off the field.
“This young man has done a lot for this university as far as his ability to play football, but also how he has represented this university and represented this community,” Edwards said.
The final image of Harry walking off the field at Arizona Stadium, after the Sun Devils had just completed a 19-point comeback against the Arizona Wildcats, will be etched in the minds of ASU fans for years to come. That day, Harry said, is when he decided he would leave ASU.
“I tried to wait until after the last game to even get that far,” Harry said of his thought process. “Because my mindset was, ‘I have games to play. I have a team that’s depending on me.’ After the U-of-A game, that’s when I really decided it might be time – especially leaving with a win at the University of Arizona. That’s when it become clear to me that this might be the decision for me.”
The questions now include what round will Harry be selected – and by which team?
Edwards, a former NFL head coach who has been in draft war rooms before, said Harry checks a number of boxes NFL talent scouts will want.
First, teams often look at the skill set and size of a wide receiver. Standing at 6-4, 213, Harry is a prototype NFL wide receiver.
Second, Edwards said, teams look at competitive nature, a trait Edwards believes is Harry’s strongest attribute.
“He loves to compete,” he said. “It’s a different football, the next level. It’s all about competition.”
Harry said the NFL was always a dream for him, not for the money but for the love of the game. He now has an opportunity to advance to the next level and continue that dream, while making money.
“I feel like, now that I have the opportunity to go out and get my dreams, I feel like I need to do that,” he said.
– Video by Justin Parham
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