The numbers behind Kelvin Harmon trying to rewrite history at NC State

He is only a sophomore, but NC State’s Kelvin Harmon is starting to look like an All-ACC wide receiver. The 2017 season is still in its honeymoon phase, but if Harmon can continue this production level — a possibility with Ryan Finley at quarterback — then he could become the first All-ACC wide receiver from NC State since 2010.

That season, with Russell Wilson slinging the ball, Owen Spencer was named second team All-ACC (60 receptions, 912 yards, four touchdowns). You have to go back to 2003 to find the last time an NC State receiver was first team all-conference: Jerricho Cotchery.

Cotchery teamed up with Phillip Rivers that year to catch 86 passes for 1,369 yards (second most in school history) and 10 touchdowns; it was the second year in a row he was named first team All-ACC.

Kelvin Harmon could add his name to that list in 2017.


A new name at the top of the list?

The last two seasons at NC State, the leading receiver has been Jaylen Samuels (A Man Has No Position). In 2015, with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, Samuels was targeted 80 times, and collected 65 receptions — both of which were tops on the roster.

A year later, now with Ryan Finley running the show, Samuels caught 55 of his 81 targets; both of those values were again the best on NC State’s roster.

Through the first two games of 2017, NC State is averaging 50 pass attempts per game. That number will certainly slide lower; however, at this moment, it’s on pace to be a high in the Dave Doeren era. In terms of attempts, the most a Wolfpack team has ever aired under Doeren is 35.5 — back in 2013, his first season in Raleigh.

Basically, there are plenty of opportunities for Kelvin Harmon, Jaylen Samuels and Stephen Louis to go around. Harmon, per Football Study Hall, is the team’s most-targeted receiver, though. Here’s how the three stack up.

TargetsRecCatch RateYardsYards/Target
Kelvin Harmon271970.4%2358.7
Jaylen Samuels242083.3%1456.0
Steph Louis111090.9%11210.2

Samuels leads the team with 20 receptions, which ranks second in the ACC; Harmon has 19 receptions — good for third in the league. Harmon is one of only two ACC players averaging at least nine receptions per game and 100-plus yards receiving. Syracuse’s Steve Ishmael is the other.

It’s rather impressive for Harmon to have a catch rate north of 70 percent and average better than eight yards per target. Per, 12 of Harmon’s 19 receptions have gone for first downs or touchdowns. He also has six catches of 15-plus yards, too. That’s elite production.


One for the record books, possibly?

Harmon is averaging 117.5 yards per game. At that current rate, he’s on pace to have a top-five season in program history. Harmon could become the first receiver since Cotchery in 2003 to eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving mark.

Torry Holt has the program’s single season record for receiving yards — 1,604 back in 1998. However, if NC State plays 13 games, and Harmon continued to averaged 117.5 yards per game (unlikely, but just go with me here), then he ends up with 1,528 yards — usurping Cotchery for the No. 2 spot.


Kelvin Harmon: So far, so good

Things may have been a little too close for comfort at times for NC State against Marshall; the Wolfpack trailed at one point 20-10, but used 27 unanswered points to roar back and win. Kelvin Harmon played a critical role in the victory, too.

According to Football Study Hall, Harmon caught nine of 10 targets (90 percent catch rate) for 121 yards and a touchdown — a 34-yarder from Finley that came just before haltime. Samuels was No. 2 in targets that game with seven. Harmon’s performance was graded as the third best for an ACC receiver by Pro Football Focus — behind only Austin Proehl and T.J. Rahming.

The prior Saturday, in the loss to South Carolina, Harmon made a little history, too. Harmon, who was targeted 17 times, caught 10 passes for 114 yards. Since the 2000 season, he’s just the fifth player at NC State to catch at least 10 passes for 110-plus yards in a game.

Nyheim Hines hit those benchmarks last season against Florida State, but before that, the last member of the Wolfpack to accomplish that feat was Donald Bowens in 2007 against Virginia. In the last 18 seasons of NC State football, this has only been done nine times; the aforementioned Jerricho Cotchery accounts for four of those performances.

Kelvin Harmon is only a sophomore, and 2017 is still a young season. He will have plenty of opportunities to chase the legacy of Cotchery.


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