As the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft dwindled Saturday, Cliff Brady, the agent for former Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish, got a call from the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts told Brady that Harnish was on their short list of players they were looking to select with the 253rd overall pick, the 46th pick in the seventh round and the last pick in the draft.
Brady also had 14 other teams interested in his client, and told the Colts if they wanted him they were going to have to draft him.
“I said ‘Look, I’m like inching negotiations with San Diego and Tampa [Bay], and I’ve got 12 other teams calling right now, so if you want him, you better take him,’ ” Brady said.
Indianapolis didn’t pass on the Bluffton, Ind., native, making him “Mr. Irrelevant” with the last pick in the draft. Harnish is the first NIU player selected in the NFL Draft since defensive end Larry English was taken 16th overall by the San Diego Chargers in 2009.
Harnish was the 2011 Mid-American Conference MVP. He helped lead the Huskies to their first MAC championship since 1983 while completing 61.7 percent of his passes for 3,216 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also ran for 1,379 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“I was still hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. The worst being a free agent-type thing,” Harnish said in a conference call. “My agent and I were starting to work different deals out there, and we were starting to think free agency. To be honest, I wasn’t thinking I was going to be ‘Mr. Irrelevant.’ ”
As “Mr. Irrelevant,” Harnish will be honored for a full week during “Irrelevant Week” in Newport Beach, Calif. While there, he will visit Disneyland and will be invited to be the grand marshal of a parade.
There actually was another NIU connection to the Colts’ last pick. Former NIU wide receiver Nathan Palmer told the Daily Chronicle that Indianapolis called him during the sixth round saying they wanted to take him, and also gave him a call during the last few picks, where Palmer said they seemed interested.
“Essentially, that pick kind of came down to me or him, I believe,” Palmer said. “I’m glad that he got picked. Chandler’s a great guy, a great quarterback.”
Palmer eventually agreed to a free agent deal with the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday evening. He said San Francisco first showed interest in him during the fifth round and kept in touch with him throughout the draft. Palmer said he even talked to 49ers general manager Trent Baalke.
“Just the feel, the comfortable feel I had there. It was actually a gut feeling I had,” Palmer said of his decision to go to the Bay Area. “I felt like I had 10 minutes to make a decision.”
Two other former Huskies confirmed to the Daily Chronicle on Saturday that they had agreed to free agent deals. Center Scott Wedige will head to Arizona, and linebacker Pat Schiller will be going to Atlanta.
Brady also represents Wedige, and said that Cardinals offensive line coach Russ Grimm basically “begged” for his client.
“Russ Grimm loves him. And when your position coach loves you, Russ Grimm played the position, he likes Scott’s demeanor,” Brady said. “Plays to the end of every play, that type of deal.”