N'Keal Harry continues to separate himself as one of college football's elite talents

The ASU wide receiver has always stood out on the football field and continues to do so everyday

It is pretty easy to see that ASU junior wide receiver N’Keal Harry is one of the most talented wide receivers the program has ever had. 

He’s a special player, but it’s hard to pinpoint one certain area of his game because there are so many aspects of his play and his character as an athlete that set him apart from other wide receivers. 

For Harry, he feels like what makes him unique from other players in his position is something that doesn’t have to do with skill or what he has been taught. 

“I love this game,” Harry said. “I’ve sacrificed my body, my time, blood, sweat and tears for this game. Every time that ball is in the air, I’ll do anything to go and get it. I just feel like that’s what separates me from a lot of the wide receivers out there.”

However, redshirt senior quarterback Manny Wilkins has a different reason as to why Harry is such an incredible player. 

“He just practices really hard," Wilkins said. "(He) treats it like a game.” 

Wilkins, in addition to being Harry’s playmaker, is also his roommate. That means in addition to seeing all the extra work Harry puts in at practice, he sees how Harry is at home. 

“He just stays grounded,” Wilkins said. “I think that’s one thing that separates him is he doesn’t let the hype get to his head. He doesn’t let the talk outside of this team get to his head. He just works.”

This is quite the achievement considering that Harry has always stood out in the football world. 

“The thing I love about the guy is that he’s a competitive young man,” head coach Herm Edwards said. “I got to see him in high school as a senior that showed up in the all-star game ... He just kind of stood out.”

Nonetheless, the humble part of him that warrants so much respect had to develop over time. 

Before Harry was the primary offensive contributor for the Sun Devils, former offensive standouts like Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard had to avoid letting their successes get to their heads.  Harry said what he learned from the two of them is what he considers most important. 

“More than anything, I learned how to conduct myself,” Harry said. “I had some trouble adjusting to things when I first got to college, and it was really the off the field stuff with those guys that helped me the most.”

With this assistance, Harry is able to put all of his focus on football, and this enables him to be more than worthy of just the “hype.” 

In the first two games of the 2018 season, Harry has accumulated a total of 229 yards, and 140 of those yards came from the Sun Devils first game against the University of Texas San Antonio. 

“He’s a big receiver and he’s tall ... but he’s also agile enough to run really good intermediate routes and get open,” offensive coordinator Rob Likens said. “That’s kind of what makes him special.”

This is a huge improvement from his first two games from last season in which Harry received 69 and 49 yards, respectively. In that season, he had a total of 1,142 yards, and now, he is on pace to supersede that. 

“Being as agile as he is at the size that he is … he’s just hard to tackle,” Likens said. "If you can get him the ball and space and create situations where he is one-on-one with the tackler, he’s going to win most of those.”

Harry did just that on Sept. 8 as he beat a defender in man coverage against Michigan State. The big score tied the game at 13, and it was the only touchdown ASU had in the game. 

It’s amazing plays like this and all the aforementioned attributes that make Harry a prime draft pick for the 2019 NFL draft. 


In recent years, one notable ASU draft pick who has made it to the NFL is Jaelen Strong. He was the 70th overall draft pick and the sixth pick in round three. The only Sun Devil wide receiver drafted higher was Aaron Cox, who was the 20th overall pick in round one in 1988. 

In his final season at ASU, Strong received a total of 1,165 yards. He received 146 yards in the first game of the season and 43 in the second for a two-game total of 189. 

Harry, with 229 yards under his belt so far, is 40 yards ahead of Strong this season. 

However, this is not what Harry is focused on right now, nor will it be what he’s putting his energy into for the rest of the season. 

“It’s just winning games,” Harry said. “I want to do anything I can to help my team win games. We’ve put so much into this, and we deserve to win games. We deserve everything coming our way.”


Reach the reporter at pburnell@asu.edu or follow @paige_burnell on Twitter.   

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