It is an exciting time for ASU freshman and former Chandler Wolves standout N’Keal Harry.
He is impressing during fall camp and has reportedly been seen working in with the starters as the Sun Devils’ first game against Northern Arizona is just a week away. Life has been different for N’Keal but he is adjusting well.
“Even though I am just down the street, it’s a lot different because I am on my own,” Harry told Sports360AZ. “My Grandma is not with me even though she’s up the street. So all the responsibility is on me. I’ve got to wake up, make sure I’m at practice, I’ve got to make sure I’m doing everything right. It’s just different from a football aspect.”
“I just have to be a lot more mentally focused than I was in high school,” he added.
Harry mentions being just down the street from his Grandma. A person who has played the biggest role in his life growing up and played a big factor in Harry signing with ASU out of high school.
“It’s really just been her and I for as long as I can remember,” Harry explained. “I just felt like I really needed to do this. Even though I did a lot in high school, I really haven’t done anything yet. So I just wanted to make her feel like she is a big part of this.”
Harry and his Grandma had to make some big decisions about his football playing very early on. When Harry was just a year or two into playing the game as a kid, he sustained multiple concussions. It had become serious enough that doctors were advising them that he should take some time away from the game or never play it again.
“When we were going over that, my Grandma and I made the decision that I should stop playing football,” stated Harry. “So that was real tough for me at a young age. I was just starting to play the sport, I had only been playing for a year or two. Then to have that taken away from me, it was really rough. I cried a lot.”
Harry took to basketball where he grew a passion and very good skill for the sport. When he arrived at Marcos de Niza as a freshman in high school, really on basketball was on his radar.
“I wasn’t even planning on playing football,” Harry recalled. “I just came in and (former Marcos de Niza) Coach (Roy) Lopez saw me on day on the basketball court playing open gym and said ‘hey do you want to come play football?'”
A week or two before Marcos’ first game when Harry was a freshman, he threw on some pads and went out and played. After two years at Marcos then two more all-state level years at Chandler high school, we find Harry where he is today at ASU.
Having gone through the bad side-affects of head injuries at a young age, Harry has been more cognizant of the safety that is needed on the football field and the action that needs to be taken if concussion symptoms arise. A knowledge-base that is much higher than many others his age he might not have had to deal with significant head injuries to this point.
“Having concussions, especially at that age, you learn that if your head is bothering you or you feel you might have a concussion, you’ve got to tell somebody,” Harry said. “There are times in a game where you really don’t want to tell anybody and there’s even times I might play through that. But even after the game if anything is going on, I am going to tell my trainer because I don’t want anything to happen to me that makes it tougher for me to live down the road.”
With all this being said, it is sad to think of what might not have been for Harry if he never strapped a helmet again. Instead, Harry has learned to play the game in a manner where he can manage the risks as best he can and is having his college education paid for as a result.
Harry and ASU kick-off their 2016 season on September 2nd against NAU.