Of the 18 players Arizona State landed as part of its 2016 recruiting class last week, one in particular stands out.
Receiver N’Keal Harry, from Chandler High School, verbally committed to the Sun Devils in November and stuck with them until signing on the dotted line Feb. 3, and with him in the fold ASU’s class has considerable star power.
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Harry was the top-ranked player in the state of Arizona and one of the best receivers in the country.
So perhaps then it should come as no surprise that in a piece presenting five Pac-12 breakout candidates in 2016, ESPN.com writer Chantel Jennings tabbed the incoming ASU freshman.
A good amount of Harry’s success will be dependent on the progress of the Sun Devils’ first-year quarterback — whoever that turns out to be. But Todd Graham isn’t about to sign the No. 1 wide receiver in the nation and then not utilize him as much as possible. Not every top-rated recruit pans out during his college career, but give a look at the past few No. 1 wide receivers — Alabama’s Calvin Ridley (2015), LSU’s Malachi Dupre (2014), Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell (2013) and Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham (2012). Each of those players had at least five touchdown catches during his true freshman season. Expect even more from Harry, especially since there’s a good chance he’ll become the biggest and best target for the Sun Devils.
Last season’s leading receiver for ASU was Devin Lucien, who caught 66 passes for 1,075 yards and eight touchdowns. He was followed by D.J. Foster, who snagged 59 passes for 584 yards and three scores. Both were seniors and will not return, leaving Tim White, Ellis Jefferson and De’Chavon Hayes as the only returning players who had at least 10 catches last season.
That would seem to open the door for Harry, who caught 48 passes for 802 yards and seven touchdowns as a high school senior, to emerge as a key part of the team’s passing attack.
But as Jennings noted, any success Harry or any of the Sun Devils’ receivers may have will largely depend on the quarterback, and with last year’s starter Mike Bercovici running out of eligibility, whoever is tasked with leading ASU’s offense will come into the season lacking experience.