Player capsule: Jalen Harvey
Position: Wide receiver
Weight: 195 pounds
2016 season quick review: After catching just four passes during his first two seasons on campus, Harvey emerged as a dependable weapon for Arizona State’s offense during the 2016 season. The El Cerrito, California native racked up 21 receptions for 330 yards and averaged over 15 yards per reception in an offense that sometimes struggled to get the ball to its perimeter playmakers. Harvey began the season expecting to compete with Cameron Smith for reps at the Z-receiver position, but Harvey’s emergence as an every down asset and Smith’s ongoing knee issue allowed Harvey to take the lion’s share of the opportunities at the position.
SunDevilSource.com analysis: One of toughest competitors on ASU’s roster, Harvey is a rugged, hard-nosed athlete who plays with an edge on every down.
After coming into his own at the Z-position in Chip Lindsey’s offense a season ago, Harvey is transitioning to the slot under new offensive coordinator Billy Napier which will allow the Sun Devils to take advantage of the physicality and raw toughness Harvey brings to the field.
Even if Harvey didn’t catch a pass this year, he’s the type of player who could still provide value to ASU’s receiving corps because he invites contact and possesses a burning desire to be the best blocking receiver in the country. Fortunately for ASU, Harvey also has a desire to be as complete of a receiver as possible, and he’s talented enough to thrive in the slot because he’s fundamentally strong and technically sound as a route runner.
Slot receivers are often asked to make contested plays in traffic, and Harvey’s ability to use his body as a shield or use his physicality to his advantage should help him excel in this role.
Expect Napier to use Harvey in shifts and motions in an effort to outnumber defenses at the point of attack, and expect Harvey to execute blocks on rush ends, linebackers and safeties from any number of alignments including as a wingback or a tight slot.
Early in Harvey’s career, he struggled with consistent practice habits and maintaining focus, and he also had a stint on the defensive side of the ball where he was asked to learn how to play Spur linebacker. Over the past year and a half, though, Harvey has noticeably matured and is now one of the players ASU receivers’ coach Rob Likens can point to as an example for the rest of his unit.
Likens said he expects Harvey to succeed this year because Harvey’s the type of player who’s willing to do the dirty work, and Harvey’s teammates expect the same from him because as they put it, he’s “got some dog in him.”
Those are high compliments from his peers, but if Harvey is able to continue to bring the same focused energy and approach to the field this fall, he should be one of ASU’s most complete players at the receiver position.
Projected depth chart status: After finishing the regular season as ASU’s starting Z-receiver, Harvey began the spring working at the H-receiver position in Napier’s offense. Harvey still possesses some versatility and ASU can swing him outside if Napier wants Harvey and sophomore slot receiver Ryan Newsome on the field together at the same time, but he’s a natural fit for the role the Sun Devils want him to play. Harvey’s fundamental approach to route running, desire to help the offense in the run game as a blocker and passion for competition make him the leading candidate to start at the H-position, even though Newsome possesses more athleticism and explosiveness.