NIU QB Chandler Harnish: 2012 NFL Draft MR. IRRELEVANT


(Update: the Indianapolis Colts have selected NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish with the final pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. So the Colts bookend the draft, with QBs)

Northern Illinois University is kind of known as the mid-major version of “Tailback U.” The DeKalb, IL institution has produced some of the most electric runners (LeShon Johnson, Michael Turner, Garrett Wolfe and Chad Spann) in not just the MAC, but all of college football.

The Huskies are known for tailbacks, not quarterbacks. However, they might have the best in school history in Chandler Harnish, who like the halfbacks mentioned above, is great at running the ball.

“It is probably the worst offensive performance I’ve been a part of, myself included. I’m not not blaming anybody,” Harnish told the media after the game.

“I didn’t play a good game either. It’s definitely disappointing, but credit goes to Wisconsin. They schemed us perfectly.”

Harnish hails from the tiny hamlet of Bluffton, Indiana, a town of 9,000 in the northeast portion of the state. It’s also the same hometown of former Michigan State Spartans Center and current Australian pro basketball player Adam Ballinger.

Harnish had about 40-50 people on hand to see him throw passes in a NFL stadium, and it was about the same amount of people he draws for his usual home games at Husky Stadium.

“Being a small town guy, we haven’t had a whole lot of D-1 football players, so it’s great to have a lot of family/friends that come out and I always appreciate their support,” Harnish said after the game.

Harnish entered the season on the all the major award watch lists a QB could qualify for, and he entered the Wisconsin game with a ridiculous 75% completion percentage, and as the nation’s sixth most efficient passer. Last year, he broke the school single season and career records for total offense.

He’s 19th on the school list all-time for rushing and should be the school’s all-time leader in passing, completions and TD passes by the time he’s done in 2011. Harnish talked about why he choose Northern.

“They were one of the schools that recruited me early on and offered me a scholarship before anyone else did,” he said at the home of the Chicago Bears Saturday.

“I really liked the opportunity of playing in the MAC, I really didn’t think I was a big ten qb to be honest, I thought I could come in to Northern and play early on. And I was fortunate to do that and things have worked out pretty well.

Harnish doesn’t have a specific on the field role model, but he certainly looks ups to inured Colts legend Peyton Manning.

“I don’t play anything like him, but I’ve been amazed by how well he runs the team, how well he leads with great integrity, never does anything wrong off the field, and just his presence has really inspired me,” Harnish said.

Badgers coach Bret Bielema paid Harnish a great compliment. On a day when Bielema’s own play-maker, Russell Wilson put up “video game numbers” (that expression seems to be trending these days) He said of Harnish:

“He’s a guy like Russell who can make things happen all by himself.”

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

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