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Former NIU QB Chandler Harnish sticks with Colts

Former Northern Illinois standout Chandler Harnish will be Indianapolis Colts’ third-string quarterback this season. | AJ Mast~AP

Former Northern Illinois standout Chandler Harnish will be the Indianapolis Colts’ third-string quarterback this season. | AJ Mast~AP

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Updated: October 6, 2012 1:52PM

He may have been the last man drafted, but he’s still standing.

Mr. Irrelevant, Chandler Harnish, has made the active roster of the Indianapolis Colts and is one of three seniors from the Northern Illinois 2011 Mid-American Conference champions who will be collecting NFL paychecks this fall.

Linebacker Pat Schiller and wide receiver Nathan Palmer have been signed to the practice squads of the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers, respectively, one day after being released in their teams’ final cuts last week. And center Scott Wedige, cut last Friday by the Arizona Cardinals, “is gonna be signed today or tomorrow, too,” NIU coach Dave Doeren said Tuesday at his weekly press conference.

Harnish, who set most of the Huskie career quarterback records, was taken with the final pick of last spring’s draft as the Colts bookended the draft with QBs after taking Stanford’s Andrew Luck with the first pick. The team also kept six-year pro Drew Stanton of Michigan State to backup Luck.

“For Chandler to be on the active roster with (Luck) is a really good opportunity,” Doeren said.

“I’m just really proud of those guys. I’m not surprised. They were good players for us and I’m happy for them. Obviously, their agents did a nice job helping (Schiller and Palmer) get on the right team where depth was an issue (at their respective positions).”

After last Thursday’s final Falcon preseason game, Schiller tweeted, “I have fought the good fight … now it’s outta my hands.”

The next day, after being cut, he tweeted, “It’s been fun Atlanta. Unfortunately, this will no longer be my home,” but followed with “On my way back to ATL” one day later. On Tuesday, he reported he was apartment hunting.

Schiller, the former Geneva standout who received the Huskies’ final scholarship offer as a senior, will now be a teammate of former NIU standout and ninth-year pro, RB Michael Turner.

“There’s a lot of good things to come to them and others in our program,” Doeren said. “There’s a lot of attention right now to what’s going on here with NFL (scouts) coming through. They really like our players.

“I think they know they’re going to get tough guys who are good kids that play hard and who love the game.”

The NFL has two other former Huskies who are active, fourth-year San Diego linebacker Larry English from Aurora and sixth-year Dallas offensive lineman Doug Free. English had two sacks in preseason, completing a healthy preseason camp after two injury-plagued seasons. Free, after moving into the starting lineup last season at left tackle, has moved to right tackle this season.

Offensive tackle and NIU grad Ryan Diem retired after an 11-year career with the Colts at the end of last season.

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