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Moving on: ASU WR Harry declares for NFL Draft

Junior wide receiver N'Keal Harry announced that he would forgo senior season to enter NFL draft. (Bella Sisneros/Cronkite News)

TEMPE, Ariz. –  After a stellar three-year career at Arizona State, junior wideout 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 Harry 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.

N’Keal Harry will finish his ASU career first in both receiving yards and receptions among three-year players. (Bella Sisneros/Cronkite News)

“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, a local product of Chandler High, was about four years old when he left the Caribbean Island of Saint Vincent for Arizona with his grandmother, Felna, who was there for the announcement.

Harry began his high school career at Marcos de Niza before transferring to Chandler, where he 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.

Wiith schools like Oregon and Texas A&M as 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 to remain in-state and attend 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.”

Harry’s quarterback, Manny Wilkins, was also in attendance for Monday’s news conference at Sun Devil Stadium.

Harry and Wilkins connected countless times over the last three seasons on the football field, but the quarterback thanked Harry for his friendship off the field above all else.

“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,” Wilkins 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.

Harry recorded three touchdowns and 161 yards in ASU’s game against Utah on Nov. 3. (Bella Sisneros/Cronkite News)

“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 having just completed a 19-point comeback against the Arizona Wildcats is one that will be etched in the minds of ASU fans for years to come. That day, according to Harry, 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.”

With the NFL Draft upcoming for Harry, the question now is how high he will be selected and by which team.

A former NFL head coach, Edwards has been in draft war rooms before. When describing Harry, Edwards said the junior wide receiver checks a number of boxes NFL talent evaluators will want.

First, teams often look at the skill set and size of a wide receiver.

At his size, 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.

Now, Harry 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.

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