Pressley Harvin III: the TD throwing, 260lb punter who may be the star of the draft

When the NFL draft kicks off subsequent Thursday, the destiny of a few of faculty soccer’s largest names will probably be determined. Names like Kyle Pitts, the red-zone busting tight finish out of Florida; Patrick Surtain II, the second-generation ballhawk out of Alabama; and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, the as soon as in a era prospect whose identify figures to be known as first. Names that draftniks like ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr and the’s Peter Schrager have spent months shuffling up and down their draft boards like clairvoyants studying tea leaves. Or worse: smoking them.

However along with these three, right here’s one other identify you’d be smart to trace – Pressley Harvin III, possibly essentially the most fascinating prospect within the draft.

Harvin isn’t a giant identify, per se. A few of that has to do with him coming from Georgia Tech – a college that may in any other case stand out if it didn’t share a state with the Georgia Bulldogs or if it weren’t based mostly in Atlanta, the place traditionally black schools loom giant. However largely, the low profile comes all the way down to this: Harvin is – *deep breath* –a punter.

Wait! I can clarify! He’s a very good punter! Final yr he received the Ray Man Award, an honor reserved for the highest punter in all of school soccer – all of whom, till Harvin received, have been white. He’d earn that huge bronze trophy on the energy of an ACC-record 48-yard web common on 45 punts, 18 of which landed contained in the 20-yard line. No! Don’t click on away! What if I informed you it isn’t simply Harvin’s leg that’s huge? What if I informed you that he seems like he spends extra time watching soccer than taking part in it, packing in extra of 260lbs onto a 5ft 11in body? There are defensive ends on the board proper now who who would have bother stopping him. And there are most likely quite a lot of quarterbacks who’d have a tough time going throw for throw with him, too. That’s proper. Along with that leg, Pressley has a powerful arm. And he is aware of use it.

Flashback to October 2019. Georgia Tech are at dwelling towards Miami and down a rating late within the first quarter. After a Yellow Jackets drive stalls on the Hurricanes’ 41-yard line, Pressley jogs onto the sector with the remainder of the particular groups unit and contours up in punt formation. However as an alternative of booming the ball skyward, he skips ahead and throws a high-arching go down the fitting sideline to a streaking Yellow Jackets receiver. “That’s one of many outstanding issues that I can do as an alternative of the ball simply hitting my foot,” Pressley informed reporters at his professional day. “I attempt to assist the crew out in any kind of manner I can.”

The trick play, which Pressley launched from the Yellow Jackets’ 48-yard line, would journey some 40 yards within the air and assist arrange a 28-21 additional time win. Positive, it was simply one among three Georgia Tech victories that yr. (Poor youngsters haven’t completed above .500 greater than twice up to now six years…) However what number of different struggling colleges can say it was their punter who saved them from being actually sorry?

At his showcase for NFL groups in mid-March, Harvin known as his Flutie-like second towards the ’Canes an on-field favourite whereas making a case for himself not simply as a punter however as one thing extra. And that shouldn’t be such a tough promote. In spite of everything, the NFL’s heritage was constructed on triple-threats like Paul Hornung and Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch – corridor of famers, each. Hell, the final time Invoice Belichick cracked a smile was after sending the aforementioned Doug Flutie onto the sector to nail an extra-point dropkick towards the Miami Dolphins. Technically this was a trick play. However, actually, it was a deal with. And it’s too unhealthy we don’t see extra of them.

Within the 5 a long time because the NFL has transitioned from a fistfight within the grime to basketball on cleats, gamers have advanced from jack-of-all-trade ironmen into finely tuned, situational specialists. It has gotten to the purpose the place any versatility past the well-worn prescriptions for offense, protection or particular groups is taken into account a detrimental. Kordell Stewart – the QB-slash-tailback-slash-receiver-slash-punter who took the NFL by storm in mid-90s – ought to have been a mannequin value emulating. As an alternative, he’s professional soccer’s poster boy for doing an excessive amount of. Nonetheless, it might have been a lot worse. He might have come alongside two or three a long time earlier and been boxed into a job as a receiver or cornerback just because he was Black and thus assumed to not be sensible sufficient for the cognitive and management calls for of the quarterback place.

However these days? Professional soccer is extra experimental than it’s ever been. That a lot is simple each time a participant like New Orleans Saints’ third-down buster Taysom Hill or LA Rams fake-punt god Johnny Hekker steals focus, and snaps, from a conventional QB and wins hearts.

And there’s no higher time than now to make a case for Harvin, the uncommon punter who can also be Black. The most important identify like that to search out his manner into the league was Marquette King, one other Georgia college system prospect who kicked for the Raiders and Broncos. He shortly emerged as an All-Professional expertise, with a aptitude for celebration that was second to none. It’s only a disgrace that every one that additional persona may additionally be why he stays out of a job.

Harvin, although, isn’t practically as boisterous – information that can come as aid to professional soccer gatekeepers who reserve showmanship rights for marquee stars. However that’s to not say evaluators haven’t discovered fault with Harvin. Amongst different issues, they ding him for his excessive return price and inconsistent dangle time. Likewise, his contact on quick kicks they discover a bit iffy. However beneath grey and grim circumstances at Georgia Tech’s outside observe subject, Harvin acquitted himself effectively whereas displaying off his spectacular leg, stunning arm and improved health; since coming into right into a rigorous coaching program after the Yellow Jackets’ season, he’s 20lbs lighter. Ordinarily, that form of dedication would justify a better draft grade. However as a result of Harvin is labeled punter, alas, he’s doomed to be chosen within the very late rounds, if he’s even picked in any respect. If there’s any comfort King wasn’t picked both – however in fact that’s extra of a knock on the sport than the participant.

It’s simply one more reason why Harvin is so eager for his critics to see him as one thing else, one thing extra relatable. “Punters are folks, too,” Harvin informed reporters. “I can contribute to the crew on extra than simply fourth down.” If he had his druthers he’d checklist himself on a depth chart as ATH, the commonplace faculty shorthand for all-round athletes. But when he ought to handle to catch on with an NFL crew and put his tiny hometown of Alcolu, South Carolina, on the map whereas establishing himself as a contemporary mold-breaker? Shoot, he’d not solely make a giant identify for himself. He’d go away admirers and doubters alike fumbling for extra colourful labels to foist upon him like legend – or, higher but: a steal.

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