DeKALB – For perhaps the only time, former Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish managed to go relatively unnoticed at Huskie Stadium on Friday.
During most of NIU's pro day, Harnish clapped and encouraged former teammates as he watched. Standing to the side, he urged them to run faster or give one more rep.
Harnish decided to let his times and measurements from last month's NFL scouting combine stand – including a 4.76-second 40-yard dash he swears he can beat – and just throw.
"There was the risk-reward. If you could come out and maybe jump an inch higher or jump an inch farther, it's just not there compared to the risk of injuring yourself," Harnish said. "I was thinking about running my 40 again, because I know I'm faster than 4.76. But it was just awfully cold, and again you get to the risk-reward. I wanted to be able to throw healthy. I didn't want to have to come out with maybe a bum hamstring or something like that."
Harnish said his decision also came because his results at the combine compared favorably, ranking in the top half of quarterbacks in his draft class.
Throwing in Friday's cold and swirling wind wasn't ideal, even if he grew used to Huskie Stadium's conditions during four seasons as a starter. It was a stark contrast to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, the last time Harnish threw in front of pro scouts.
But again, Harnish approached it measuring the risk against the reward.
"When you throw well in an environment like this, I think it does you so much better than when you throw well in an indoor facility, because everyone expects you to throw well," Harnish said. "But out here, people don't expect you to do really, really well, and when you do make those 'wow' type throws, those are the ones they write down. Those are the ones they're going to be remembering."
The wind affected Harnish's accuracy Friday, but he still managed some of those "wow" throws.
After missing receiver Nathan Palmer on a fade route near the end of the throwing session, Harnish promised they would try to connect one more time. A couple throws later, scouts tried to end the session, but with Palmer stepping up to the line Harnish asked for one more throw. The result was worth their time, a perfectly thrown fade down the left sideline.
Even on a day when he didn't do much, Harnish still impressed.
"Oh, Chandler looked phenomenal," Palmer said. "Coming out here throwing, we came out a couple weeks before he went off to the combine, and just from that until now you can see growth in him. It shows a lot about his character and his willingness to learn.
"He came out there and his balls were on point, he was throwing tight spirals. Everything looked good from Chandler."
NOTABLE MARKS FROM PRO DAY
Bench press reps of 225 pounds
Scott Wedige (center): 25 reps
Pat Schiller (linebacker): 22 reps
Willie Clark (receiver): 16 reps
Keith Otis (offensive tackle): 14 reps
Nathan Palmer (receiver): 13 reps
Trevor Olson (offensive tackle): 12 reps
Jasmin Hopkins (running back): 12 reps
Jordan Delegal (safety): 12 reps
DeMarcus Grady (receiver): 10 reps
Schiller: 4.68 seconds
Wedige: 5.13 seconds
Otis: 5.5 seconds
Palmer: 37 inches
Clark: 36.5 inches
Schiller: 35.5 inches
Delegal: 34 inches
Hopkins: 33.5 inches
Palmer: 10 feet, 5 inches
Clark: 9 feet, 5 inches
Delegal: 9 feet, 3 1/2 inches
Hopkins: 9 feet, 1 inch
Schiller: 9 feet, 1 inch
Otis: 8 feet, 3 inches