Years of hard work and dedication on the football field paid off for Illinois State All-American defensive back Davontae Harris Saturday, when he was selected in the fifth round (No. 151 overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Harris is the 16th Redbird player selected in the NFL Draft in the program’s history and the first since 2015, when former teammate James O’Shaughnessy was also selected in the fifth round (No. 173 overall) by the Kansas City Chiefs. He is also the fourth ISU player taken since the 2013 season, joining Nate Palmer (sixth round – Green Bay Packers, 2013), Shelby Harris (seventh round – Oakland Raiders, 2014) and O’Shaughnessy.
A 2017 First-Team All-American selection by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), STATS FCS and Phil Steele, Harris was also tabbed as an Associated Press FCS All-America Second-Team honoree. The Wichita, Kansas, native later went on to represent the Redbird football program at the prestigious East-West Shrine Game and was invited to participate at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
A two-time All-Missouri Valley Football Conference First-Team selection, Harris led the Redbirds and tied for second in the MVFC with 14 passes defended (12 PBU, 2 INT) during the 2017 season. He also ranked third on the team with 57 tackles, including two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss, and was credited with three quarterback hurries. In 2016, he ranked No. 1 in the MVC in passes defended with 15 (13 PBU, 2 INT), while averaging 1.36 passes defended per game to also top the conference.
Harris finished his illustrious career at Illinois State with 208 tackles (152 solo stops), 38 passes defended (tied for 5th all-time), 10 tackles for loss, four interceptions and three sacks in 49 games played for the Redbirds.
Another Redbird All-American, defensive lineman Dalton Keene, agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Rams. Keene finished his career at ISU ranked No. 9 in sacks (17.5), No. 11 in tackles for loss (33.0) and with an even 200 total tackles. Keene was named to the Phil Steele FCS All America First Team, AFCA Football Championship Subdivision Coaches’ All-America Second-Team selection and STATS FCS All-America Team pick. He was also selected to play in the 93rd East-West Shrine Game® and was an all-Missouri Valley Football Conference First-Team selection. He finished third in the MVFC Defensive Player of the Year voting and started all 11 games for the Redbirds. He led all defensive linemen and ranked second in the MVFC overall with eight sacks and was tied for third in the MVFC with 13 TFLs. Keene finished the season with 45 tackles and also added six pass breakups and eight quarterback hurries.
Wide receiver Christian Gibbs received an invite to the Cleveland Browns rookie mini camp and defensive end James Graham also received invites from the Browns and the Bengals.