But the Little Rock native didn't have to wait too long to find out just where his professional football career would begin Sunday.
Harrison became the third of six Arkansas players selected in the two-day draft when the Chicago Bears nabbed the 6-foot-3, 310-pounder in the third round with the 90th pick. Three more Razorbacks — tackle Nate Garner (New York Jets), fullback Peyton Hillis (Denver Broncos) and receiver Marcus Monk (Chicago Bears) — were selected in the final round of the seven-round draft Sunday.
It was a bittersweet weekend for Harrison, who had been projected as high as a late first-rounder. But he knew the reason for the draft slip: His arrest last August for possession of two marijuana cigars and an Ecstasy pill, which left plenty of teams questioning his character throughout the draft process.
"I have made a really horrible mistake and of course I have seen how it has cost me, especially (Sunday)," Harrison told Chicago reporters during a teleconference. "That is exactly what it was. It was a mistake that I made in the past, but I've moved on from it. ... The situation is pretty much behind me and I'm moving on."
Harrison opened the day as the second-best prospect on the draft board of ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. He became the seventh defensive tackle selected in the draft when the Bears grabbed him 27 picks into the third round.
Harrison vowed he will make the most of his opportunity in Chicago, while Bears' personnel said they were glad he was available in the third round.
"He should have been a first-round pick," Greg Gabriel, Chicago's director of college scouting, told reporters Sunday. "He's already paid his penance. We feel we're getting him at a bargain rate."
Said Harrison's agent, Joel Segal: "Marcus should've been an earlier choice. The off-the-field issues I think pushed him from round 1 to round 3. But Marcus is so classy, so upbeat. He understands the situation and he's ready to move on."
Harrison's selection kicked off what was expected to be a busy day for the Hogs, but it took awhile for players to move off the draft boards.
Garner's surprise selection finally ended the silence in the seventh round. The Roland native was holding out hope of a late-round selection, but preparing to sign a free agent deal. The Jets grabbed the big tackle instead.
"It was awesome," Garner said. "I didn't see it coming to be honest with you, but it was pretty amazing."
Hillis, who was rated as the top fullback on some mock draft boards, went later than anticipated. But the fullback did become the third member of Arkansas' 2007 backfield to be selected. Running back Darren McFadden (Oakland Raiders) and Felix Jones (Dallas Cowboys) were first-round picks Saturday.
"They probably thought I was in between and a guy that was not heavily recruited," Hillis said about his slide on a conference call with reporters. "I think that a lot of teams will be disappointed that they passed me up."
Then came Monk, who was projected as a mid-round pick in 2007 before deciding to return to Arkansas for his senior year.
Monk, who missed the first seven games of his senior season because of a knee injury, said he still had no regrets about his decision Sunday night. Instead, he'll get a chance to team up with Harrison on the Bears roster next season.
"It feels good," Monk said. "Everything happened for a reason and I got picked where I got picked at for a reason. I'm just going to take it as it comes and get the most out of it and just work hard."
Staff writer Ryan Malashock contributed to this report.
Arkansas Draft Day Two
Pos. Player Team Round (Pick)
DT Marcus Harrison Chicago Third (No. 90)
OT Nate Garner N.Y. Jets Seventh (No. 211)
FB Peyton Hillis Denver Seventh (No. 227)
WR Marcus Monk Chicago Seventh (No. 248)
Harrison One of Four Hogs Selected Sunday
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