Clay Harbor Projected by Many as Top Fullback in 2010 NFL Draft
INDIANAPOLIS – Clay Harbor doesn't doubt himself. Not a bit.
As the fullback from Missouri State figures it, if he doubted himself, it's doubtful he would be where he is this month, on the verge of being among the first players at his position selected in the 2010 NFL Draft.
A small home town. A small high school.
A small university.
Some pretty humble beginnings, as he described them recently.
Still, in an era in which fullbacks often go undrafted and very rarely go early in the draft, Harbor – who played tight end collegiately – is generally expected by many to be selected in the third or fourth round of the April 22-24 NFL Draft.
And his beginnings matter not a bit.
"It's kind of surreal right now," Harbor said during the NFL Scouting Combine, which was held at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis in late February.
How surreal? As Harbor (6-feet-3, 252 pounds) described it, growing up in Dwight, Illinois – about an hour south of Chicago – was growing up amid cornfields, and his graduating class at Dwight High School included about 75 people.
Still, when asked about the NFL, Harbor said his approach is simple.
"I feel like I belong," he said.
The road to that feeling was a long one, one that began when his older brother, Cory – then playing for Missouri State – began talking to coaches about his younger brother. When Missouri State opted to offer a scholarship, Clay Harbor said it was a pretty easy decision.
It was the only one he received.
While Cory is scheduled to graduate with a master's this semester, Clay has a real opunity to extend his football career. It became apparent he would get that opportunity following a standout career in which he made the All-Missouri Valley Football Conference first-team three times. He also was named to the conference's Silver Anniversary Team.
He was invited to the East-West Shrine game following his senior season, as well as the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game.
"It gives me a lot of confidence," Taylor said. "I was always confident, but just going to the all-star games, and playing how I did, my confidence is about as high as it can be right now. I think that my film speaks for itself.
"Most teams grade me as a fourth – or fifth-round guy. I really don't think that people know what kind of athlete I am."
It is Harbor's athleticism that has enabled him to go from relatively unknown to an NFL prospect. He still holds the high jump record at his high school, and he began his collegiate career as a wide receiver, playing there for a season and a half.
He moved to tight end and is projected as a hybrid tight end/fullback in the NFL, a player who can flourish in an era in which teams are looking for such players to be able to line up as H-backs, fullbacks and tight ends and flourish catching passes out of the backfield as well as blocking in selected situations.
Harbor, who caught 59 passes for 729 yards and four touchdowns this past season, earned All-America honors from several outlets, including the Associated Press. He not only holds the Missouri State record for career receptions with 150, he caught passes in a school-record 33 consecutive game and tied a school record with four 100-yard receiving games as a senior.
Still, he said because of the size of his school, there were the expected obstacles achieving notoriety.
"It's real hard," Harbor said. "I'm not going to say it's a shame because it's just a stigma that we have to shake. It's a small hurdle. I pull for all of the small school guys because I know how hard they have to work to just get their name out there, to be considered a prospect. It's just one more hurdle in the way.
"At (Division) 1-AA schools, we get overlooked a lot. We're not as well known as some of the bigger schools, bigger conferences. But year-in and year-out, we pull upsets in our conference.
"And we have great players that come out of there."
And if there had been doubts among observers about his ability to translate into the NFL, many may have been erased at his March 26 Pro Day. That was the day he ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash, .10 better than his time at the Scouting Combine.
"I'm sure it'll be nerve-racking leading up to the draft," he told the Springfield News-Leader. "But I'm not going to be too worried. I'll just let the chips fall where they may."
BREAKING DOWN THE 2010 NFL DRAFT'S TOP FULLBACKS
Fullback in recent decades has been one of the NFL's more low-profile draft positions, and that remains true this season. Clay Harbor from Missouri State is projected as the top player at the position, and he also is classified by some as a tight end. A lot of players from this group likely will go late in the draft or be signed as free agents afterward.
THIS YEAR'S DRAFT
An alphabetical list of 10 fullbacks who could be selected in the 2010 NFL Draft . . .
Matt Clapp, Oklahoma, 6-2, 229
John Conner, Kentucky, 5-11, 246
Richard Dickson, LSU, 6-3, 249
Clay Harbor, Missouri State, 6-3, 252
Rashawn Jackson, Virginia, 6-1, 239
Jameson Konz, Kent State, 6-4, 234
Jamie McCoy, Texas A&M, 6-2, 240
Dennis Morris, Louisiana Tech, 6-1, 253
Cody Slate, Marshall, 6-3, 229
Manase Tonga, BYU, 5-11, 245
Note: The content in this story and in the series of draft-eligible players that appears on Colts.com in no way reflects the position of the Indianapolis Colts.