INDIANAPOLIS – Chuck Pagano saw the promise back in May, way before fans would ask about the spelling of his first name, or how the undrafted free agent would hold up across All-Pros Haloti Nagta and J.J. Watt.
The Colts past history of UDFA's, along with the uncertainty of a starting center, attracted Jonotthan Harrison, a 2014 UDFA, to Indianapolis.
At the conclusion of rookie minicamp, Harrison had emerged as a candidate to continue the long history of UDFA success stories in Indianapolis.
"The center's a really smart guy and tough," Pagano said in May of the 6-4, 299-pound Harrison. "From a technical standpoint, it looks like he's been well-coached. Really pleasant surprise, really pleasant surprise."
From the film at Florida to those initial looks at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, Harrison had the makeup of a guy who could play in the trenches at the NFL level.
Harrison now has two NFL starts under his belt and the Colts like what they see from their center.
"Harrison has a way about him…he just knows how to play with leverage and we saw that from day one and that's kind of something you can't teach," Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson said on local radio earlier this week.
"He has just the flexion in his hips, the hand placement and then gets into contorted positions and still is able to play strong. We like what he brings to the table."
Highlights from the Colts win over the Texans Thursday night!
Once thought to be a position of question this offseason, Grigson likes what the center position has become in mid-October.
The search for a starting center all spring and summer has the Colts with three more than capable bodies in October, all of whom have the versatility to play guard.
"We're happy where we are at (at center)," Grigson says.
"We think it's an ascending position group compared to where we were in the offseason. We have three good centers now. It's a good problem to have."
Harrison has emerged from the group of Khaled Holmes and A.Q. Shipley and is part of a Colts line protecting the league's top scoring offense (Colts are 7th in the NFL in sacks allowed per pass attempt).
A high ankle sprain suffered by Holmes in the preseason opener forced Harrison into a starting role. The shuffling at center continued when Harrison injured his thumb on his snapping hand later in the preseason.
With the regular season opener approaching, Shipley epitomized the "Next Man Up" mantra by starting against the Broncos less than a week after the team had signed him.
Over the last two weeks, Harrison has played 168 of the team's 169 offensive snaps in getting his first significant NFL action.
"Harry's done an unbelievable job in what is it two starts so far? Against the Ravens and the Texans, which are beasts of a defense, and we've won both games." Andrew Luck said earlier this week.
"He's done a heck of a job, and it comes with experience and practicing the right way."
The normal growing pains of any rookie, especially playing on the offensive line, have been there but Harrison's positive snaps have far outweighed his negative ones.
No position in the NFL has seen more later round picks and undrafted free agents turn into starters like the center spot.
The Colts made it a priority this spring to find impact guys at the close of the draft and they might have found another gem in Harrison.
"Jon's played well," Pagano said following the win over the Texans. "He's tough, he's strong, he's a smart guy.
"We'll continue to assess and evaluate our line and that position as we move forward, but proud of Jon and proud of what he's been able to do. (Houston) was a hostile environment. When they came roaring back after the fumble return for touchdown, that was deafening. They've got a darn good football team and a bunch of darn good football players across that front. It was a tall order to ask from a young guy and he held up and did a nice job."