On fourth-and-three from midfield, Sun Devil quarterback Manny Wilkins invested in wide receiver N’Keal Harry who corralled a 39-yard reception late in the fourth quarter against UCLA.
The drive consisted of 13 plays, each no huddle shotguns, that resulted in a 23-yard field goal cutting the Sun Devils’ deficit to 37-44 against the Bruins Saturday night.
“I was telling Manny and coach to just trust me,” Harry said. “I had seen the safety kind of roaming back there the whole game and I told them ‘just throw the ball and regardless if there’s a safety or not, double-coverage or not, I’ll come down with it.’”
Trust is mutual between the two. Catches similar to the one in the Rose Bowl have been frequently wrangled in by the sophomore. With two games to go in the 2017 season, Harry has gathered 66 receptions, the most of any of Wilkins’ targets.
Harry, a four-star recruit out of Chandler High School, has given back on the trust put into him by coming down on catches that may seem impossible for anyone to come down with.
“He has a great anticipation to high-point of ball,” Wide Receivers coach Rob Likens said. “He uses his hands to the best of his advantage.”
“You say the term 50-50 ball, I’d say with him the percentages are a little bit higher.” Offensive Coordinator Billy Napier said.
N'Keal Harry is the only sophomore in the country to have started AND received a catch in every single game he has been at Arizona State - 22 consecutive games.#StayTrue2ASU pic.twitter.com/66isRNOtw8— Sun Devil Football (@FootballASU) November 12, 2017
Even in those 50-50 chances, Harry doesn’t know the process in how he catches them.
“I really don’t even think about anything.” Harry said. “It’s like something takes over in my body and I just go and get it. It’s hard to explain.”
Easily seen is that Harry’s numbers have already exceeded his freshman totals.
Last season, he had 58 receptions for 659 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also had three rushing attempts.
Now with the “Sparky” formation becoming a staple in the Sun Devils’ offense, Harry is a common choice when deciding who gets the snap. This season, he has rushed 17 times, gathering 65 yards.
During Arizona State’s 24-34 loss to the Stanford Cardinal, Harry took frequent snaps and even had a 14-yard passing touchdown to tight end Ceejhay French-Love, something he didn’t do in his freshman season.
It doesn’t matter where you put Harry, he’ll perform.
“I think in the future you’re going to see him continue to improve and that will be a direct reflection of how hard he works and what type of self-discipline his approach day-in and day-out the entire year.” Napier said. “There’s a lot of things that go with being a really good football player and he certainly has the physical skill set to go a long way in this game.”
To put Harry in one role would hinder the diverse play he can bring to a team.
For him, it’s not even close to where his ceiling can be reached, trust him.
“Right now I’d give myself a six and a half or seven out of 10.” Harry said. “I play good with the ball and I’ve made some catches that I wanted to make but there’s a lot of plays out there that I didn’t make... I criticize myself a lot and I think that’s what’s going to help me to get that level, that elite level that I want to be at.”