Player capsule: N'Keal Harry
Position: Wide Receiver
Weight: 220 pounds
2016 season quick review: A signature signee in the 2016 class out of nearby Chandler High School, Harry exceeded all reasonable expectations as a true freshman last season. He set a school record for a freshman with 58 receptions for 659 yards and five touchdowns. He finished first on the team in receptions and touchdown catches, and just 54 receiving yards behind Tim White. Against Utah and Washington Harry had more than 100 receiving yards. For his production Harry was named a Freshman All-American by Scout.com.
SunDevilSource.com analysis: Harry quickly supplanted veteran Ellis Jefferson on the depth chart last August and didn't look back. He earned rave reviews from ASU coach Todd Graham for his assimilation into the program in the strength and conditioning component last summer, and then in practices in preseason camp. Harry hit the ground running as a rare opening game true freshman starter, and went on to have one of the best ASU seasons in history by a newcomer at wide receiver.
The statistical accomplishments achieved by Harry were even more impressive given the injury-plagued season the Sun Devils had at quarterback, and the fact that he caught balls from three different quarterbacks. ASU didn't have great play from its quarterbacks for much of the season, and Harry could have had a lot more production had there been greater health and stability at the position.
A natural playmaker, Harry arrived on campus with a great combination of size and strength, at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, and showed an easy ability to utilize it. He's very physical and competitive when targeted, with strong hands and a seemingly innate ability to make contested plays on the football. He has the important and rare skill of being able to slow the play down and use his terrific presence and physical composure to catch the football, often doing so even when draped by defenders.
Harry is very much a possession type receiver; a chain-mover who is extremely valuable on third down situations and in the red zone. But he's got the potential to be quite a bit more than that, and flashed it at times during his first season in Tempe. At times he found himself behind the defense, especially against ASU's less talented opponents, and a lot of yards and some touchdowns were left out there because he wasn't able to be successfully targeted down the field. There were also occasions in which he hauled in catches in really acrobatic and spectacular fashion, such as the one-handed grab on a deep pass in the end zone against UTSA.
As good as he was as a freshman, Harry has quite a bit of room to grow as a route runner and overall technician of the game. Against better defensive backs he at times found it hard to gain separation. There's plenty of development that can be made with how Harry uses his hands at the line of scrimmage as well as how he transitions at the top of the route. His overall speed is decent for his size, but not yet where it'll need to be for Harry to be talked about as a potential first-round NFL pick down the line.
More than anything, ASU's coaches want to see Harry's daily habits become more consistent. The most talented players have the highest expectations, not just from a game performance standpoint, but in every way possible. During the spring, Harry spent quite a bit of time on the sidelines or on Muscle Beach tending to minor nagging issues. Fighting through adversity and being the example coaches point to on the work ethic side is the next step in Harry taking his game from elite freshman, to elite national wide receiver.
Projected depth chart status: Without question, Harry is going to start for the Sun Devils at the 'X' wide receiver position, which is the signature high-volume perimeter target. He'll likely be on the field as much as any skill player for the Sun Devils in 2017, and should have as his goals, 75-plus receptions, 1,000-plus receiving yards, and double-digit total touchdowns from scrimmage. He's capable of being an All-Pac-12 selection, as Harry is among the Top-5 returning players in the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving yards per game.