Toughness Defines Harvey

When the practice broke on Friday, Todd Graham announced that he was happy enough with the team’s efforts to warrant a cancellation of the second of two scheduled practices for the day. About fifteen minutes later all but a handful of players remained on the practice field. One of them was freshman receiver Jalen Harvey who stayed behind to continue working with Coach DelVaughn Alexander.

“It’s about studying,” Harvey said. “My study habits have to get better. On the field is no problem, I’m attacking in every rep, but it’s about knowing the plays on a consistent basis without me asking coach what the plays are.”

The four-star prospect admitted that it has been a little overwhelming trying to absorb a collegiate playbook. The solution for him has been leaning on the teachings of the veteran receivers on the team. Or at least one well-known receiver.

“It’s mainly Jaelen Strong, he’s a big mentor,” Harvey said. While he mentioned Gary Chambers as a player that he can go to for help, it’s the highly-touted, All-Pac-12 receiver that he has gravitated toward.

“I most definitely talk to him. I try not to irk him too much with questions because he’s got a lot to learn too, but when I get a chance, I always ask him questions.”

Asking questions is a much different experience for Harvey than it was at El Cerrito High School where he built an impressive resume that made him one of the top receiving recruits in the nation. Regarded as the No. 22 wide receiver in the nation by 24-7 Sports and No. 29 by ESPN, Harvey had scholarship offers from the majority of the Pac-12.

Despite his strong play at receiver that turned so many heads, he was also a standout as a defensive back in high school. With experience at receiver, as well as special teams and defense, his versatility was something that many thought he could take advantage of at ASU.

For now, he’s trying to work his way into the rotation at receiver as well as earn some reps on special teams. He’s not ruling out the possibility of defense in the future, though. In fact, he’d welcome the opportunity.

“If they give me a shot, I’m going to take it,” Harvey said. “But at the same time, the wide receiver depth is kind of low right now so I’m sticking to it.”

“They’ve got me on kickoff cover, kickoff return, punt return so I’m all around. I love punt return.”

To get a chance at returning punts in a game, Harvey will have to show coaches that he is more of a return threat than more experienced players like Damarious Randall and Kyle Middlebrooks. To find his way on the field at receiver might be even more difficult.

With Strong firmly entrenched as the team’s No. 1 receiver, it’s anyone’s guess who else will run routes for Taylor Kelly when the season begins against Weber State in less than three weeks.

Like Strong, Harvey brings the physicality necessary to be a successful collegiate receiver, but he knows that alone isn’t enough. Especially in the Pac-12 where the cornerbacks are much bigger, faster and better than the ones he saw in high school.

“Being physical important, but the coaches want more,” Harvey said. “Just physical? They know I’ve got that there, but it’s more about what I can do off the line. It’s about attacking the route instead of trying to bully the person every time.”

That attacking mentality is something Harvey tries to bring to practice as well.

“It’s just about attacking every rep. Taking each rep full speed and if you make a mistake, at least go full speed at it, because at the end of the day, coach is going to coach you up on it,” Harvey said. “When I first got out here I was just attacking and it got me in a cycle where I fighting for second-string.”

With Camp Tontozona just days away and the depth chart closer to getting settled, Harvey is still trying to climb his way into the starting lineup. But for now he knows that the best he can do is “keep his head steady and consistent” and just keep attacking.

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