Earlier this month, a college football staff member told 247Sports that five stars Port of Nyckoles was his favorite prospect in the entire 2023 recruiting class. We’re talking about a 6-foot-6, 225-pound specimen with the traits to be considered the best passing passer in the country or perhaps the best tight end.
You’ve barely tapped into Harbor if that’s all you know about him.
Port speed is now well documented. Last spring, he posted a mark of 10.3 in the 100m (en route to Gatorade Player of the Year honors in Washington DC) and the 16-year-old junior just ran a 20.79 200m run at the recent Under Armor High School Classic in Lubbock. , Texas (a mark that ranks fourth all-time for high school sprinters).
On the football field as a junior, Harbor racked up 31 tackles for loss, 17 sacks and 66 rushing quarterbacks, while forcing six fumbles and blocking two punts and catching five touchdown passes.
And to top it off, Harbor may be a better student than he is an athlete. As great as Harbor is between the chalk or on the track for Archbishop Carroll of Washington, D.C., it’s that immaculate 4.6 GPA that excites his father Azuka Harbor, who was a professional football player for 12 years, 15 of which appearances in games as part of the United States National Team.
“I told him I didn’t want anyone to know you as an athlete,” the elder Harbor said. A graduate of Alabama A&M, Harbor is now an aerospace engineer at NASA. “I said I wanted them to know you for what’s in your brain.”
A father of four, Nyckoles being the youngest, this was ingrained in all the children at Harbour.
“If you don’t study, there’s no reason to talk about football, athletics, you don’t play anything. You don’t play football, nothing. Education, we have done it and he is doing well in this aspect.
Harbor has NFL dreams and Olympic dreams, but that doesn’t take away from his aspirations to become a surgeon as well.
“He’s been saying for a long time that he wants to be a surgeon,” Azuka said. “I say you can do whatever your heart desires, but you have to work hard. It is not easy. It’s going to be a lot of hard work. He said “dad, I’m ready”.
With that, Harbor has never finished a semester with anything below an A on her report card. Never.
“If he gets a B, we’re going to have a conversation about it,” laughed Azuka. “I say does anyone have an A in this class? He says “yes”. I’m like why not you. It ignites him. He says ‘ok daddy, ok daddy.’ I play mind games with him.
Harbor is certainly determined. Football never came naturally to him, but he took off in football and athletics and he aims to do both in college. Harbor has its pick of the litter to do so as Alabama and Clemson recently became two of the latest programs to expand a scholarship joining countries like Georgia, Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame , Michigan, Maryland, Florida, Texas, Oregon (he said the Ducks were his dream school) and Stanford.
“I look at my kid, to think of 45 middle schools, I’m talking about big schools giving him a full ride and he’s only 16, I’m glad to hear that,” Azuka said. “Seeing this every day, the mail that arrives at home, we couldn’t believe it. It got to the point where the postman was like ‘can I see this kid?’ When (Nyckoles) came out, the postman was like ‘oh my God what is this?’ He said “you have a stallion in your hands”.
This isn’t the first time Harbor has received such a compliment. He joined the Full Speed Track program at the age of eight and blew his mind with trainer Pamela Crockett. Two years prior, she coached Ashton Allen who is now a sprinter at USC, and when Allen left her other coaches in the area, she told him she would never have another athlete like that. Enter Harbor which now owns all of the records Allen previously set.
“It’s so funny,” Crockett said. “You organize relays, and relays are difficult, but everyone wants to participate and I said who are going to be the three children who run with Nyckoles? A parent started saying ‘you can’t do this coach, you gotta have a runoff.’ I said I would stage a runoff but I see a runoff every day in practice. When Nyckoles ran into that runoff, the parent who started him said : “I think you just found the eighth wonder of the world.” We laughed about it and we still talk about the kid who was eight years old.
Crockett said she knew at the time that Harbor was “the most amazing athlete I’ve ever seen”.
“He’s a perfect storm of an athlete,” Crockett continued. “He has the most incredible support system. His parents are absolutely amazing. They never treat him like a superstar. They recognize what he has, but recognize all he has.
A phenomenal test taker (Nyckoles also topped these standardized tests), Crockett overheard Harbor once say to a college recruiter “academics are my plan A, sports are my backup. The coach was floored. He’s probably never, I should say, rarely heard that from an athlete.
“What makes Nyckoles special is honestly his combined profile. He’s one of the most compassionate people I’ve worked with. He’s one of the most intuitive youngsters I’ve worked with. He is one of the brightest and he is the most talented of an incredible group of young people that I have coached and mentored.
Crockett went through a difficult New Year’s Eve where his house caught fire. Nyckoles was there the next day for six hours to help sort things out before he found time for dinner knowing he had a whole night of homework ahead of him.
“I don’t think you can teach a kid that,” Crockett said. “That’s who this kid is.”
Archbishop Carroll’s head football coach, Robert Harris, has known Harbor for just over three years. Harbor arrived on the track with raw potential on the football field. He played JV in ninth grade, went through a growth spurt during the Covid-19 pandemic and flourished as a junior where he played everything from wide receiver to tight end to outside linebacker, defensive end and defensive back.
“He really is a great leader, he leads by example,” Harris said. “Kids gravitate to him as a leader. He doesn’t want to disappoint you. He plays hard. He hates making mistakes (Crockett called him a “self-corrector”). It’s a bit of a perfectionist. In 27 years of coaching, I feel like coaches are always talking about this ‘once in a lifetime player’, he makes me feel like james lebron, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan child type. His attributes are endless.
Harbor was able to immerse himself in the recruitment process although the indoor track did not allow him to make university visits in January. In the past he has been to Maryland and Penn State a few times. Over the summer, he toured camps that included Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, and South Carolina. Harbor traveled to Oklahoma during the season.
“I think the next trip may be to Alabama,” Harris said. “Maybe March 5.”
The Harbor elder laughed and said the 45+ schools had impressed so far.
“I think Nyckoles has a 40-year plan, not a four-year plan,” Crockett added. “I believe he’s looking for a school for an education and he understands that he’s super coachable and he can pretty much go where he wants to go and continue on the trajectory he’s on.”
This trajectory could also include the option of becoming a pro on the track. Crockett predicts Harbor could break 10 seconds in the 100m and 20 seconds in the 200m by the end of the season. Azuka knows what’s on the table for Nyckoles but tells her son that no decision is urgent.
“I try to hold him back and not involve him too much in the process, let him grow like a child,” Azuka said.
A child with an incredibly bright future.