- Jeff Dickerson, Chicago Bears beat reporter
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It was impossible for quarterback Chandler Harnish to keep a low profile the past four years at Northern Illinois. The 2011 MAC Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Harnish amassed 11,927 yards of total offense -- the third-highest total in conference history behind Byron Leftwich and former Bears draft choice Dan LeFevour -- and 92 touchdowns (68 passing, 24 rushing) during his career with the Huskies. In 2011, the quarterback threw for 3,216 yards, 28 touchdowns and just six interceptions, while also rushing for 1,379 yards and 11 scores.
But Harnish sounds content to stay out of the spotlight on draft weekend.
"My agent [Cliff Brady] gave me some real sound advice," Harnish said. "He told me not to have a big draft party. Being that I'm a guy projected to be a late-round pick, it's just not a good idea. He's seen it before where guys have these big parties at their house, and then they don't even get drafted. I'm going to be very low key."
Harnish began the draft process by playing in the East-West Shrine game in January before traveling to Indianapolis for the NFL combine the following month. He has been working out at NIU throwing to receivers since the Huskies held their pro day on campus in early March.
Harnish recently made an official visit to the Seattle Seahawks.
"It's kind of been a hectic process, but it's been a great experience," Harnish said. "Nobody really knows exactly where they are going to end up, so it's a kind of an inexact science. I don't get too caught up in the number of visits because sometimes that doesn't matter. I just tried to put my best foot forward whenever I met with all the teams at the combine and pro days. At the end of the day, I 'm proud of myself and feel good about my performance on the field and in the interview rooms."
Whenever a quarterback enjoys great success at the collegiate level in a spread offense, there will usually be questions about his ability to transition to a more traditional NFL offense. For Harnish, the trick will be finding the right system to fit his style of play.
"I think being an athletic quarterback coming out of college is something I could definitely use to my advantage because the NFL’s changing, and quarterbacks are being able to move out of the pocket more and more and that’s a good trend for me," Harnish said. "But again, I still need to show that I can make the throws and do the things from under center and the different dropbacks to prove that I can play in this league."
NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish is content to lay low during the draft.