Harnish shows skills at NFL Combine


Northern Star File Photo NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish scrambles from Badger linebacker Ethan Armstrong.

By Jimmy Johnson

Standing on the field of Lucas Oil Stadium at the NFL Combine Sunday, Chandler Harnish quickly realized he wasn’t in DeKalb anymore.

The former NIU quarterback wasn’t shoulder to shoulder with his teammates. Instead, he was running through various drills with the likes of Baylor signal caller and Hesiman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and the potential first pick in this year’s NFL Draft Andrew Luck.

“You just have to act like you’re one of them and you deserve to be there,” Harnish said. “Once you get that in your mind, it’s not too hard to acclimate yourself.”

Harnish ended up running a 4.76 in the 40-yard dash, which tied him for seventh among quarterbacks with Southern Mississippi’s Austin Davis. Up until he dashed his way to that time, Harnish said he spent weeks training at the Lake Barrington Field House with his trainer, Kevin Barcal.

But Barcal isn’t just helping Harnish shed milliseconds off his 40.

“We’re getting ready for interviews and the Wonderlic Test,” Harnish said. “There are so many different aspects when you’re doing this kind of thing.”

Harnish said he talked to 20 to 25 NFL teams, and NFL personnel didn’t hesitate to grill him with questions ranging from if he’s ever been arrested or if he’s ever failed a class. And, of course, questions pertaining to the X’s and O’s of the game.

“They wanted to know how my offense, as a shotgun, kind of a spread quarterback translates into the NFL,” Harnish said. “I had to have great answers to comeback with those questions.”

Harnish admitted he isn’t a world-class sprinter, but was pleased with how he performed in several other drills.

After leaping and running, Harnish wanted to show those in attendance at the NFL Combine that he could certainly do one thing.

“I wanted to show that I could throw the ball,” Harnish said. “A lot of people question dual-threat quarterbacks and how well they can throw the football. I wanted to show those people that I could throw it, and I think I did just that.”