To focus solely on Calvin Harris' two collegiate seasons at Wake Forest is to overlook much of what makes him such a promising draft selection for FC Cincinnati.
FC Cincinnati on Thursday chose Harris, a forward and winger, with the No. 2 overall selection in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft, which was staged virtually. Harris, who gave post-draft remarks via Zoom in the office of Wake Forest head coach Bobby Muuss, was considered by some to be the top attacking player in the draft.
The size of Harris' role in the 2021 FCC team is still to be determined but his acquisition addressed an area of need for FC Cincinnati, which scored just 12 goals in the pandemic-shortened, 23-match 2020 season.
"Right now, it's just a real big feeling of excitement and, really, I'm just grateful for the opportunity that Cincinnati has given me," Harris said. "The staff there have been very good and positive. I've enjoyed various conversation and now I'm just excited and looking forward to the future."
Harris' background in the game is not that of the typical collegiate draftee. His journey in the sport picked up steam at age 14 years old.
Events from that point on help innumerate the possibilities for Harris.
At age 14, Harris arrived to New Zealand to continue his education at Scot's College. He also sought to continue his playing career at Wellington Phoenix, the only New Zealand-based club in the Australian top-flight, the A-League.
A FIFA rule preventing Harris from playing in competitive matches until age 18 limited some of his opportunities, although he was able to play alongside some of the first-team and academy players in events not sanctioned by FIFA.
Occasionally, Harris would train with the Phoenix first team, too.
He dove headlong into his educational pursuits and waited for his opportunity on the field.
Even without a consistent stage to show himself at Wellington, Harris became one of the brightest amateur stars in the Phoenix academy setup even. Once he turned 18, he was able to play competitively for the club's reserve side, scoring twice in six matches.
Eventually, Harris was considered for a professional contract at the club but would have counted as one of the its five international roster spots, which are typically reserved for an A-League club's best players.
A passport-holder in the United Kingdom and resident of Hong Kong, Harris' international roster status proved to be too large a hurdle as Wellington weighed offering him a contract.
Still, Harris left a strong impression during his short time with the Phoenix reserves.
"The thing that stood out was that he was a really dynamic forward," said Phillip Rollo, a New Zealand-based sports journalist at Stuff.co.nz. "On his debut in the New Zealand national league, he scored a stunning goal from the edge of the box in the 21st minute and you could kind of tell at that moment, 'wow, there's definitely a bit of 'X-factor' about him.' And he only ended up playing a handful of games at that level before moving on but, for a young player he could just change a game that other players his age probably couldn't.
"He's the kind of player that if he could dribble past a player and get toward the edge of the box, you knew he was willing to shoot and was capable of scoring some pretty spectacular goals."
Wake Forest presented Harris, now 20, with a different avenue for pursuing professional soccer.
Harris tallied 10 goals and five assists in 32 career matches for the Demon Deacons. That included four goals in a pandemic-shortened, nine-game Atlanta Coast Conference season last fall.
Harris is a Generation adidas signing, which means he signed a professional contract with MLS prior to the draft. Also, his salary won't be charged against FC Cincinnati's annual salary budget.
Harris would require an international roster spot at FC Cincinnati, just as he would have in the A-League.
"As for my role, that will come with how I perform," Harris said Thursday of joining FCC. "And that's what I'm wanting to do and when I'm coming in, I just want to learn and improve and my confidence will come with that. That's what I'm looking forward to doing coming into Cincinnati."
Entering Thursday's draft, FC Cincinnati held the the Nos. 2, 29, 54 (via trade for Fatai Alashe to Columbus Crew SC) and 56 overall selections.
The club used the No. 29 pick on Avionne Flanagan, a defender from South Florida. Flanagan is a 5-foot-11 native of Baltimore and a left back. He could prove to be an understudy to the recently-acquired Ronald Matarrita, previously of New York City FC.
With the No. 54 overall selection, FC Cincinnati went for something of a local product in taking Norwegian-born and University of Dayton product, Jonas Fjeldberg.
In 2019, Fjeldborg was named the Atlantic-10's Offensive Player of the Year after notching 11 goals and nine assists.
Two picks later, FC Cincinnati closed out its 2021 draft class with the selection of Hofstra's Matthew Vowinkel, who in 2019 was named First-Team All-Colonial Athletic Association.
FC Cincinnati General Manager Gerard Nijkamp is expected to address the 2021 draft class and other topics next week, according to the club.