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Harnish selected as Mr. Irrelevant

Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 4:28 p.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 4:29 p.m. CST

DEKALB — Chandler Harnish was frustrated, upset and depressed.

A few minutes later, the former Northern Illinois quarterback was trending on Twitter, as was "Mr. Irrelevant."

Just before Indianapolis the Indianapolis Colts were going to make the 253rd and final pick in the  2012 NFL Draft, Harnish received a call from Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson, who then passed the phone on to coach Chuck Pagano.

Harnish, who spent most of the afternoon golfing, was able to watch the tail end of the draft at a cousin's house. After seeing just 10 quarterbacks go off the board before him, only two in the fifth through seventh rounds, Harnish finally got some good news.

The Colts were going to make him "Mr. Irrelevant."

"I literally found out two minutes before they announced it in TV," he said. "To be honest, my hopes were very, very low."'

"We were able to watch it live which was pretty cool," Harnish added.

When the final picks of the draft were coming in, Harnish's agent, Cliff Brady, was working the phones with other teams in hopes of getting a free agent deal lined up for his client. Brady said Saturday night that 14 teams had interest in Harnish, and that he was working "strongly" with San Diego and Tampa Bay.

When Indianapolis called Brady, he put it pretty bluntly.

The Colts were going to have to draft his client if they wanted him.

"I said, 'don't even call me after the draft or free agency. He'd love to come there, but you have to draft him because this is getting out of hand,' " Brady said.

Indianapolis listened, and Harnish finally had his draft moment he could enjoy.

"I've really just put my phone to the side because I wanted to spend this rare occasion with my family and friends," he said. "It is crazy how you go from being a nobody to really one of the more [recognizable] names in the draft for a different reason."

Being "Mr. Irrelevant" does bring notoriety. Of course, Harnish got to see his name announced on ESPN and NFL Network, a luxury that none of the other late-round selections are able to enjoy.

He'll also get to go out to California and visit Disneyland over the summer, and get his own parade in Newport Beach. Harnish will also receive the "Lowsman Trophy", which depicts the Heisman Trophy, just with a player fumbling the ball.

Former USC and NFL receiver Paul Salata founded "Irrelevant Week" in 1976. It was Salata that announced Harnish's name Saturday at Radio City Music Hall.

Other notable players picked last in the draft are Kansas City Chiefs kicker Ryan Succup, former Bears defensive back Mike Green and former Giants fullback Jim Finn, who was selected by Chicago with the last pick in 1999.

"It seems like a pretty cool event to be honest," Harnish said of Irrelevant Week. "If you're going to be a late-round pick, why not be the last one? I did not expect it at all, the chances are so low."

Harnish's time with the Colts, a team he rooted for growing up in Bluffton, Ind., begins this week when he'll attend the team's minicamp. That will be followed by OTAs and another minicamp before training camp starts in July.

Indianapolis drafted Stanford's Andrew Luck first overall to be the team's quarterback. Other quarterbacks on the roster are Drew Stanton, a sixth-year veteran who's started four games in his career, and former undrafted free agent Trevor Vittatoe.

Vittatoe was signed by the Colts on March 8, the day after the team released Peyton Manning.

Harnish had just one scholarship offer out of high school. When he goes into his Colts workouts, he said he's going to remember his time at NIU, where he and his teammates "did it the hard way."

"I want to come in and just show the team and the coaches and staff just what kind of person that I am," Harnish said. "I just want to come in and make a positive impact.

"But I'm going to come in and compete. I'm not afraid by any means."

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