PHILADELPHIA - It's not often that the punter is the star attraction of a major Pro Day but that was the case in Atlanta on Tuesday when former Georgia Tech punter Pressley Harvin was put through the paces with over 20 NFL teams watching during a rainy session.
Harvin, listed at 5-foot-11 and 263 pounds by Tech, had the most powerful leg in the country during the 2020 season and is the rebuilding team's most accomplished draft prospect after winning the Ray Guy Award as college football’s top punter. In fact, Harvin was one of four punters recognized as an invitee to the combine, which was not held this year.
A four-year starter for the Yellow Jackets, Harvin averaged 44.7 yards per punt, including a career-best 48 yards per attempt last season which set school and AAC records when he was a unanimous All-American selection.
Everyone already knew Harvin was a power hitter so to speak so those in attendance, which included new Falcons coach Arthur Smith, were interested to see how his directional skills are coming along and how much stamina he had in the big body.
How Harvin held on field goals and PATs was also part of the process as well as his Johnny Hekker-like ability to throw the football from punt formation, an intriguing wrinkle for special teams coordinators who would like to threaten opposing defenses with a fake now and again.
“I knew directional (punting) was going to be one of the most important parts of it because that’s what gets you paid in the NFL,” Harvin said after the session. “That’s what keeps you on teams. Can you place this ball in this one position that we need you to, to take the returner out of the game?”
According to those on the ground, Harvin was asked to place it outside the numbers from each hash, focusing both on the boundary side and the opposite.
“Today went pretty good,” said Harvin. “(Tuesday) was a day of staying true to my form. Staying in my straight line and being able to pinpoint the ball to where I needed to put it. The ball definitely flew real good.”
The hang-times were also impressive, ranging from the low 4.6s to well over 5.0 seconds.
Harvin also knew his ability to pass the football - he once threw a touchdown against Miami-Florida - would come up.
“I had a feeling that it was going to come it,” Harvin said about passing. “I definitely did, and that’s another attribute that I can bring to the table. Just being able to be versatile at punter is something that a lot of teams don’t really have. One of my favorite moments was throwing that touchdown against Miami in 2019.”
Geoff Collins, the former Temple coach who now heads the Georgia Tech program, has made special teams his staple, and Harvin was a big part of that along with gunners like Jaytlin Askew and Jalen Camp, who also worked out during the Pro Day.
“Pressley (was) the top punter in all of college football last year,” Collins said. “The contributions that we have had from the other four (Askew, Camp, WR Josh Blancato, and LB David Curry) on punt team was awesome.
"Jaytlin Askew has been a gunner for us for the last two years, and he has afforded us the opportunity to let Pressley use every bit of his talent to crush the ball because we have such outstanding gunners.”
It's a symbiotic relationship that Harvin hopes to carry over to the NFL.
“The biggest thing is that he can flip the field,” Collins said. “Having somebody like Pressley, who can flip the field and there is a threat of the fake on every single time that we go to a special-teams play, that’s important to us ... having that kind of threat to kind of slow people down in the return game, PAT/field-goal block, or punt-block team, having the threat of the fake, adds another dimension that Pressley was able to do for us.”
The Eagles have a new ST coordinator in Michael Clay and did not tender veteran punter Cameron Johnston as a restricted free agent. The organization did bring in another Aussie in Arryn Siposs, the former Auburn punter, on a futures deal so there is change brewing.
Philadelphia could bring back Johnston at a lower salary-cap number, move forward with Siposs, who spent time on Detroit's practice squad next season, or use one of its multiple late-round picks on a prospect like Harvin.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Thursday on The Middle with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, former Eagles OT Barrett Brooks streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and SportsMap Radio. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.