As draft (and graduation) approach, Pressley Harvin takes it all in

FILE - In this March 16, 2021, file photo, Georgia Tech punter Pressley Harvin III punts the ball  during the school's Pro Day football workout for NFL scouts in Atlanta.  NFL scouts who gathered for Georgia Tech’s pro day didn’t just want to see 263-pound punter Pressley Harvin boot the ball a mile. They also asked him to throw some passes, and he dazzled them with his arm, too. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)
FILE - In this March 16, 2021, file photo, Georgia Tech punter Pressley Harvin III punts the ball during the school's Pro Day football workout for NFL scouts in Atlanta. NFL scouts who gathered for Georgia Tech’s pro day didn’t just want to see 263-pound punter Pressley Harvin boot the ball a mile. They also asked him to throw some passes, and he dazzled them with his arm, too. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

Credit: Brynn Anderson

Credit: Brynn Anderson

As a momentous rite of passage arrives for Pressley Harvin, Georgia Tech’s All-American punter also is hoping to be selected in the NFL draft this week.

Besides the draft, Harvin will receive his business degree May 8. All that’s left is a paper for his “Management in the Healthcare Sector” class.

Harvin will get to it next week, he said, “because this week’s a little hectic.”

(Scouting report from professor Bill Todd: “He’s a good young man and did very well in the class.”)

The winner of the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter and a unanimous first-team All-American, Harvin likely is the Yellow Jackets’ top draft prospect. If he is taken – wide receiver Jalen Camp is another possibility to be selected – it likely will happen in the final four rounds of the draft, which take place Saturday.

For that to happen just as Harvin earns his degree made for a time worthy of reflection. He arrived at Tech in 2017 as a highly touted prospect hoping to succeed at the next plateau. He leaves four years later, hard-earned degree almost in hand, with the same aspirations for football’s highest stage. He leaves Tech as just its third unanimous All-American (joining greats Ken Swilling and Calvin Johnson) and the first Black punter to win the Ray Guy Award.

“It all comes full center,” Harvin told the AJC. “Definitely, I’m thankful for it, especially as it’s happening all at once. Sometimes, some of these guys really don’t get to finish school until five, six, 10 years later, after they get out of (the NFL).”

Since the end of the 2020 season, Harvin has juggled his pre-draft training with his final semester and taking calls from scouts and special-teams coaches across the NFL. Harvin and his agent, Jordan Hagedorn, have heard from about three-quarters of the league’s 32 teams. About 10 teams have been more intentional, such as having special-teams coaches talk with Harvin as opposed to scouts.

“The majority of it’s really technical stuff with punting, just picking my brain about different situational punts and stuff like that,” Harvin said. “They ask a little bit about my story, so I get the opportunity to tell them about where I came from and my whole world, to where I am today.”

The Falcons have been among teams showing strong interest, starting with coach Arthur Smith and special-teams coordinator Marquice Williams closely watching Harvin at Tech’s Pro Day on March 16. Harvin, who grew up in Alcolu, S.C., would be quite happy to join the Falcons. They ranked 25th in the NFL last season in net punting with rookie punter Sterling Hofrichter, a seventh-round pick a year ago.

“Atlanta’s kind of like a second home to me now,” Harvin said. “I would definitely like to stay here.”

Various projections call for Harvin to be taken either in the seventh round or signed as an undrafted free agent. Kentucky’s Max Duffy, Cincinnati’s James Smith and Ohio State’s Drue Chrisman are other punters seen as potential draftees.

Over the past 10 years, an average of 1.7 punters has been selected annually. Winning the Ray Guy Award hasn’t necessarily been a ticket for draft selection. Of the 16 winners before Harvin and Duffy (the 2019 winner), seven were selected.

“I do foresee him getting drafted,” Hagedorn said.

On the other hand, getting drafted isn’t the only path to a job in the NFL. Of the 10 active punters with the most career punts, three weren’t drafted, including four-time first-team All-Pro selection Johnny Hekker.

Harvin said it was important for him to be drafted as a validation of his hard work, and also an honor to join the 210 former Yellow Jackets who have been NFL draft picks.

“No matter what the opportunity looks like, I just want it, and I’m ready for it,” Harvin said.

Camp, who drew wide attention after an eye-opening performance at Pro Day, likely also is in the range of being taken as a late-round pick or will sign as an undrafted free agent. Cornerback Jaytlin Askew, wide receiver Josh Blancato and linebacker David Curry also hope to land with teams this weekend.

Harvin will spend the weekend with family and friends at a house in Kennesaw that his parents have rented for the weekend. As the direction of his life gets decided, he hopes to enjoy the moment.

“Just take it all in because that’s an experience you only get one time, and not a lot of people get that opportunity,” Harvin said.

After that, one more paper to write, and then graduation. Another threshold crossed.

“Just ready for it to be over with,” said Harvin, in words and weariness that perhaps all Tech grads can connect with. “It’s been a long four years.”

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