RALEIGH — Quick! Name the best wide receivers to ever play at NC State.
Wideouts like Torry Holt, Koren Robinson and Jerricho Cotchery probably come to mind.
None of those receivers were able to accomplish what Kelvin Harmon has already done 10 games into his collegiate career.
With his 68-yard score against Syracuse last Saturday, Harmon passed all other NC State freshman with five touchdown receptions in his first season. He may carry the true freshman tag, but Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said he plays well beyond his years.
“He doesn’t play like a freshman,” Doeren said of Harmon. “He’s a big kid, he’s tough, he’s mature, he’s handled his business the right way. He’s a great young man to coach because he shows up and works hard every day.”
At 6-foot-3, 196 pounds, Harmon is the tallest starting receiver on the NC State roster ahead of both Stephen Louis and Bra’Lon Cherry. He also turned down offers from North Carolina, South Carolina, Miami and Syracuse to play for Doeren.
But with the depth at receiver heading into the season, there wasn’t a guaranteed spot for Harmon as a freshman. That all changed when he started to show out during training camp, regularly blowing by corners for huge touchdowns and making spectacular catches.
#PackCamp Practice 7 – Play of the Day… Long Touchdown by @Wide_Receiver3. #1Pack1Goal pic.twitter.com/Rg58GQSaGV Dave Doeren (@StateCoachD) August 8, 2016
Proving himself during training camp not only earned the trust of his teammates and coaches, but it also gave Harmon confidence as a college receiver.
“It definitely helped me a lot,” Harmon said. “I invested a lot. [Wide receivers] Coach [George] McDonald is a great coach. Him and Coach Doeren got me comfortable with slowing the game down. I really appreciate the older guys helping me out.”
Sometimes certain facets of a player’s game in practice translates to the field. In Harmon’s case, it all did.
He didn’t earn many receptions through the first four games, but he made them count.
The true freshman averaged 19.6 yards per catch during that stretch with two touchdowns on just seven receptions. Both of those scores came against previously undefeated Wake Forest, with the last one proving his athleticism as he dove backward for a back-shoulder catch with a corner in his face.
That same flair for ridiculousness was on display against Boston College with Harmon’s toe-tapping touchdown with a BC defender’s arm between his body and the ball.Having a plethora of weapons like Cherry, Louis, Nyheim Hines, Jaylen Samuels and Matt Dayes can make it difficult to share the wealth.
But with Harmon’s gift for always finishing a play, Doeren said it’s hard to ignore him in the game plan.
“It’s just nice to know you can count on him,” Doeren said. “That’s a big thing as a coach. You want to know when you draw a play up and he’s going to be the open guy or whoever it is that they’re going to finish the play and make it.
“He’s a guy that produces time in and time out. It doesn’t matter if he has someone on him or not, he’s going to fight for the football and come down with it many times.”
With more chances to prove himself this season and continue rewriting the record books for NC State as a freshman, Harmon hardly appears to be slowing down. After all, three of his five touchdowns have come in the last four games.
So how big of a threat can Harmon be moving forward for the Pack?
“I feel like I can be as big of a threat as they’ll let me,” Harmon said with a smile. “We’ve got a lot of great running backs, so we can go in there and pound it in. But when they call my play, I’ll make that catch for them definitely.”
He still has a long way to go before his name will be remembered like Holt, Cotchery or Robinson, but Harmon is well on his way. And he’s not even done with his freshman year.