Class of 2023 Top Athlete Nyckoles Harbour, Can Conquer Football, Athletics, Or Both — Andscape

He’s the most wanted uncommitted football recruit of the Class of 2023, but the Maryland AAU staffer tasked with finding the star athlete seems momentarily flustered. There are over 400 attendees seated at over 40 tables at the awards banquet in the huge food hall, so locating one of the nation’s top athletes in this sea of ​​teenage humanity should be a pain.

Crisis averted. Within 30 seconds of the search, the occupants of Table 21 are on their feet for their turn at the buffet, and a teenager – his muscular 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame highlighted by the form-fitting white ribbed turtleneck that it rocks – rides considerably taller than the others. “Right there, that’s him,” a visitor says to the staff member, pointing to table 21.

The visitor has never met the teenager, but knows his stature.

“It is the port of Nyckoles.”

Meet Nycokles Harbor, a unique blend of size and speed that in November helped Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. win its first conference football title since 1988.

Tuesday, Harbour, ranked as the No. 1 athlete in the 2023 ESPN 300 for football recruiting, will play football in the Under Armor Next All-America Game (Tuesday, 5 p.m. ET on ESPN) where he will line up at tight end (he also played defense at Archbishop Carroll where he was dominant as edge rusher).

And on Feb. 1, Harbor, the most wanted remaining five-star recruit, will announce his college pick from a shortlist of finalists that includes Maryland, Michigan and South Carolina. Harbor, who stood out at Under Amor workouts in Orlando last week, just announced he will visit Oregon later this month.

Taller than Randy Moss, with speed that nearly rivals the fastest runner in the NFL, Tyreek Hill, there’s no doubt Harbor has the potential to be a megastar. The big question: will his star shine brighter as a point defender or a tight end in football?

Or as a world-class sprinter on the track?

If you’re a casual football fan who doesn’t follow college recruiting closely, you may never have heard of Nyckoles Harbour.

But chances are you’ve probably seen it. A video of Harbor went viral in April after running a 10.32 to win a high school 100-meter race in Myrtle Beach.

It wasn’t just Harbor’s speed that got viewers to watch the video on repeat. It was Harbor’s size compared to the runner, T’mars McCallum, whom he edged for the win.

ESPN’s Get Up featured the clip after it went viral, which left panelist and former NFL safety Ryan Clark shaking his head as the video rolled with Harbor described as a five-star defensive rookie.

“The guy running next to [Harbor] looks like his son… like a child he was just born,” Clark said. “Simply phenomenal. We talk about Jadeveon Clowney and what he was like in high school. Look at this guy.

It’s dominance in a sport Harbor originally took up as a hobby. The track, for Harbour, was an activity that would help him with his asthma and his stamina during the offseason away from the game which is his first love, football.

Harbor credits his first track coach, Pam Crockett, as the person who first identified his potential at age 10, around the same time his track coach, Archbishop Carroll , Rafiu Bakare, saw him run for the first time.

“He was already head and shoulders above other 10-year-olds,” Bakare said. “Yes, he was raw. But once that brutality was turned into technique, you knew it was going to be something extremely special.

Harbor quickly embraced the track, with the only obstacle being the rapid growth spurt that briefly caused him pain. The player who emerged from this growth spurt was an imposing combination of size and speed that made him desirable for all private and Catholic high schools in the area.

“He was this tall, lanky kid who looked like he couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time when I first saw him at a regional meet at the Prince County Sports Complex. Georges,” said DeMatha Catholic High School track and field coach Buddy Crutchfield. . “Then I saw him win the 100 without a problem. He was exceptional.

So remarkable that Crutchfield recruited Harbor to run on the track at DeMatha, an athletics factory (former students include football’s Chase Young and Brian Westbrook; and basketball’s Adrian Dantley and Markelle Fultz) with access to sports facilities first class. DeMatha’s track team has won the last three Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) outdoor track and field titles.

Harbor chose Archbishop Carroll, a school in northeast Washington, DC, which has a long list of notable alumni (Austin Carr, Johnny Dawkins and the late John Thompson Jr. in basketball; and Michael Steele in politics) . But before Harbor arrived, the school – which plays in a stadium with few seats and on an extremely worn ground – had not won a football title since 1988.

Since joining, Harbor has helped deliver two championships: a DCSAA Class AA Football State Championship in 2021 and a WCAC Metro Division title in 2022.

“To me, glitz and glamor isn’t a school, it’s about what’s on the inside,” Harbor said. “When I came to Carroll in ninth grade, my goal was to help bring Carroll championship football. And we did.

Nyckoles Harbor wants to participate in both athletics and college football.

archbishop carroll

Harbor helped create a winning culture at school with his play on both sides of the ball.

On offense, Harbor has demonstrated great blocking ability and steady hands, averaging 29.3 yards per catch. He was unstoppable in an Oct. 22 win over Bishop O’Connell, catching five balls for 251 yards and three touchdowns.

On defense, Harbor was effective on the edge, recording a team-high 5.5 sacks, 45 tackles, two forced fumbles and one blocked punt.

“When we started him playing defense for us, he had no responsibility but to see the ball, to get it,” Archbishop Carroll’s head football coach Robert Harris said. “With his natural ability and instinct, no tackle can stop him once he starts.”

Harris vividly remembers a play Harbor made in his junior season when he hit a quarterback, snatched the ball out of his hands before it hit the ground, and advanced the ball for a score.

“He’s done it a few times, and he knows he has the ability to pick up a game at any time,” Harris said. “On the football field, he’s a combination of Usain Bolt and Chase Young. With all due respect to Chase, who I coached against in high school, that kid as a high school kid is probably better .

Harbor takes the comparison with two great athletes in stride.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve been falling asleep and dreaming about all the things I want to accomplish,” Harbor said. “If my coaches say I have the potential to be those athletes, then I want to live up to that potential. And better [it].”

He has that potential, which is why top college football and track and field coaches from USC to Maryland — and every major program in between — have expressed interest in Harbor.

“I travel with my family and Nick Saban [Alabama] is on the phone one day, and Mike Locksley [Maryland] on another,” Harris said. “When I took on this role in 2015, this program was at an all-time low, and he’s been a big part of restoring and lifting this team to a different level.

“I don’t know what it’s like to coach Michael Jordan or Kobe or LeBron, but I feel like he’s one of that group of great athletes.”

Nyckoles Harbor circles the trail from Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, DC

Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Harbor Holding Yard just outside the banquet hall where the Maryland AAU luncheon was held when a man leaving the event politely interrupts his conversation.

“You are the future, brother,” the man said, holding out his hand. “With your stature and hard work, you can go all the way. Nothing like meeting the future.

The man should know: this is Bernard Williams, a former sprinter and double Olympic medalist who, in 2004, won gold in the 4×100 meter relay and silver in the 200 meter.

Sitting next to Harbor as he receives praise from Williams is Azuka Harbour, who has gotten used to seeing his son being hugged.

“We’re so proud of him,” Azuka Harbor said. “God really blessed him.”

Harbor was also blessed by his parents, especially the athletic DNA inherited from Azuka Harbor, who was born in Nigeria before going to the University of Alabama A&M where he was a three-time All-American. He played professional football in Nigeria and the United States and had a stint with the United States national team after becoming a citizen in 1992.

Of course, Azuka Harbor introduced his son to football at a young age.

“He didn’t have it – he was just standing there in one place,” Azuka Harbor said. “Football is something you are born with. I didn’t want to push him to do something he didn’t want to do.

So Azuka Harbor, a NASA engineer, and his wife gave Harbor their blessing to follow the first sport he fell in love with, soccer.

“The first time I saw him play and return a punt, I was like ‘wow,'” Azuka Harbor said. “I was also scared because with his speed, I felt that when someone came up on him it was going to be one hell of a collision. I can’t stay in one place when he’s playing, I’m always on the side praying.

Now these prayers are directed to Harbor for finding the perfect college to pursue his athletic career. When he makes his decision on Feb. 1, it will be a commitment to a school that respects his desire to compete in both sports.

“I met the athletic coaches and the football coaches on my visits,” Harbor said. “A school that allows me to do both is important in my decision, because I want to be one of the greatest when I step onto the football field and onto the track.”

For people who have witnessed its development, there is no doubt that the potential can be achieved.

“He’s at a level that not many people come to in football, he’s 6-5 and 230 and quick so he has the ability to give anyone the edge,” Bakare said. “We are at the point where the pieces are being put together; we get the rough out and help him become the next level athlete he wants to be.

Jerry Bembry is a Senior Writer at Andscape. His bucket list items include being serenaded by Lizz Wright and watching the Knicks play a SIGNIFICANT NBA game in June.

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