NORMAL — Fresh off an appearance in the East-West Shrine Game, Illinois State cornerback Davontae Harris will receive another prime opportunity to showcase his talents for NFL scouts.
Harris has been invited to the NFL Combine, the league’s annual extravaganza of evaluation Feb. 27 to March 5 in Indianapolis. Defensive backs are scheduled to work out on March 5.
“I was actually walking out of the training facility (in Dallas) with my coach, and we were speaking about how important it would be to get an invite,” Harris said. “On my way out of the building I checked my email, and there it was in my inbox.”
Harris is an all-Missouri Valley Football Conference performer who had 57 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions this past season for the Redbirds.
“The opportunity is a blessing that not all athletes get a chance to use as their platform,” said Harris. “So I’m excited for sure to showcase what I’ve worked for.”
Harris is the third Redbird in the past four years to earn a Combine invitation. Offensive lineman Cameron Lee went in 2017 and tailback Marshaun Coprich participated in 2015.
“It’s always big when you get a player in the Combine,” ISU coach Brock Spack said. “He’s earned that right. He had a great career and worked hard. I’m excited for him. If he can rattle off some good numbers, he could continue to improve his draft stock.”
Receiver joins team: Braxton Haley, a transfer wide receiver from Dodge City (Kansas) Community College, has signed a national letter of intent with the Redbirds and has enrolled at ISU for the spring semester.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Haley caught 31 passes for 398 yards and six touchdowns in 2017.
“He seems to have good speed. He’s a very good route runner, a good athlete with pretty good length,” said Spack. “He appears to have very good ball skills on tape. He’s very engaging, a pleasant kid to be around.”
Spack said it was important Haley was able to participate in spring practice, giving him an opportunity to work with new ISU offensive coordinator Kurt Beathard and new receivers coach Brian Anderson.
“We want to see where he’s at compared to what he looked like on tape in our system,” Spack said. “At the top of routes he can separate from defenses. That’s something we’re looking for in receivers. I didn’t see a lot of guys open last fall.”
Patterson running track: Sophomore wide receiver Kentre Patterson will spend only limited time at Hancock Stadium this spring while he competes for the Redbird track team.
Patterson has already clocked 7.99 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles for the third fastest time in the MVC this season and the third fastest in ISU history.
“If he could light practice with us occasionally that would be great, but we don’t want to overload him,” said Spack. “We would like him to be involved in meetings and walk through stuff so he knows what Coach Beathard and Coach Anderson want out of him.”
Signing Day, part two: Spack expects to add five to seven recruits Wednesday on the traditional letter of intent Signing Day. ISU signed 20 prep players in December during a new, early signing period.
“We’re focusing on speed,” Spack said. “Speed, more speed and speed.”
Spring practice: The Redbirds will open spring drills on March 24. The annual spring intrasquad scrimmage is scheduled for April 21.