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Chandler Harnish

Indianapolis Colts quarterback and Norwell graduate Chandler Harnish spoke to the media before his appearance at the Norwell football banquet Thursday at Lighted Gardens in Ossian. Video by Greg Jones, The Journal Gazette.

Harnish keeps positive attitude

Harnish

– Chandler Harnish is ready to see what Year 2 as an NFL quarterback has to offer.

The fate of the former Norwell and Northern Illinois standout could be decided next week when the NFL free agency period begins Tuesday. Harnish spent last season on the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad, but backup quarterback Drew Stanton is a free agent and could be moving to another team, leaving an opportunity for Harnish to play behind Andrew Luck.

“Those are things I can’t worry about,” Harnish said Thursday before speaking at the Norwell football banquet at the Lighted Gardens. “I can’t control it, so I am just going to do the things that I have done the whole time, work hard and put myself in a good position and have a positive attitude.”

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Harnish was the last pick in the NFL draft in April and played in four preseason games for the Colts, throwing for 406 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. He was cut in October but later was assigned to the practice squad. He was signed to a futures contract in January.

“I have to show a level of consistency, going out there every day and making plays and not turning the ball over,” Harnish said of what it will take to make the Colts’ active roster. “You have to have the respect of your teammates, and that’s not something you can measure on your pro day or at the scouting combine. At the end, when those lights turn on, you have to make plays. That’s what I plan on doing, and I am just ready to get going.”

While getting drafted and being a small part of the Colts’ run to the playoffs was great for Harnish, taking that next step would “make the dream a reality.”

“Early on, it was definitely a dream and surreal at some points,” said Harnish, who will serve as a volunteer coach for the Knights when his NFL schedule permits. “It didn’t seem real, but after awhile I began to get used to it and began to get some confidence.”

Norwell coach Jeff Miller said Thursday he didn’t see the professional possibility in Harnish as a young player, but he knew bigger and better things were always a possibility.

“I saw a pretty good gifted athlete,” Miller said. “At that point, his throwing was a little rough. We worked on that over the years. But he had the makeup, and he that presence in the huddle and work ethic.”

Miller is able to compare notes, somewhat, as he was also a standout quarterback at Norwell and then in college at Indiana State and played in the 1986 preseason with the Chicago Bears.

“I have been where he has been,” Miller said. “Obviously he is going to get Year 2 out of it, which is great. I thought last year in the exhibition season, he really played well. Almost too well, I didn’t think he would survive waivers. I thought someone might pick him off waivers, and he got be close to home. It worked out great, and I am glad the Colts brought him back. He fits in there with what they are trying to do.”

gjones@jg.net

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