Of all the things you want and/or need to know about Arizona State freshman wide receiver N’Keal Harry, the most important is that he’s not basking in his small sample-size glory.
Sure, Harry looks like the real deal both in stature (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) and performance, joining D.J. Foster as the only ASU true freshman to score in his first three games. He was a five-star recruit coming out of Chandler High School and if a six-star rating existed, Sun Devils fans would have awarded it to him after an important one-arm touchdown catch with three seconds left in the first half last week at Texas-San Antonio.
Harry not only leads undefeated ASU in receiving (15 catches, 181 yards) but is the top-rated receiver in the country through the first quarter of the season by Pro Football Focus.
There are plenty of people watching to make sure the greatest wave of Harry mania around here since the Harry Potter saga doesn’t swell N’Keal’s head.
“Just being around my grandma helps me remain grounded,” Harry said. “I haven’t made it yet. I’m not even close to making it.”
That’s the message, too, from Jay Norvell, ASU wide receivers coach, and from ASU career receiving leader Derek Hagan, who in his new role as radio sideline reporter was standing in the corner of the end zone at the Alamodome when Harry out-muscled UTSA cornerback Teddrick McGhee for that 27-yard touchdown pass.
“It shows you his athletic ability and raw talent,” said Hagan, who also played as a true freshman in 2002 when he caught a then school freshman record 32 passes. “He’s giving us the appetizers. Now, we want the full course. It starts in practice with route-running, fundamentals and technique.”
When Harry becomes more accomplished and confident, Hagan said, “Saturday is going to be really easy. Then, he’s really going to be unstoppable.”
His grandmother “was nervous (about football) especially with me not playing for so long,” Harry said. “She was picky about what type of helmet I wore, what position I was playing. At first she said no, but Coach Lopez said, ‘He’ll play receiver, he won’t get hit a lot.’ After that, she said ‘OK, I’ll let him play.’ “
Harry was physically dominant in high school (119 career catches, 2,715 yards, 25 touchdowns) and starts out in college with a body that even Hagan said resembles that of Megatron, recently retired NFL receiver Calvin Johnson.
“I watched how he played because being a big guy I had to look at an example for myself,” Harry said. “I’ve learned a lot watching him, so hopefully, one day I could be in that category.”
Like Johnson now, he’s even willing to appear on “Dancing With the Stars”– “I’d have no problem with that” – should he eventually become that well known.
Harry said he misses basketball, but he always has the option of playing some pick-up – or at least HORSE to protect against injury either way – with his girlfriend, ASU women’s basketball forward Kianna Ibis.
There were cameras following Harry and former Chandler teammate Chase Lucas around Wednesday for a day-in-the-life video that began with weight lifting at 5:30 a.m. It’s by pushing through those blurry pre-dawn mornings that will determine if Harry leaves ASU considered greater even than Hagan, John Jefferson and other ASU receiving greats.
“My grandmother always told me I’m a direct reflection of her and don’t embarrass her or the name on the back of your jersey,” Harry said. “So, I just make sure I’m remaining humble at all times.”
Original Article ASU