When UCF opened its season against S.C. State, Brynn Harvey certainly didn't wow anyone. He was the team's third leading rusher and only played in two of the team's first five games. Harvey still isn't registering eye popping numbers, but the true freshman is showing potential to help UCF fans forget about Kevin Smith.
When Harvey first stepped onto campus this summer, he displayed all the raw tools coaches crave; size, quickness, speed and power. However, he lacked the vision and patience that Coach George O'Leary desires in his backs, which prompted the slightly more experienced Ronnie Weaver to earn the starting nod.
After Weaver to struggled to show improvement and Brandon Davis, another true freshman, didn't impress in backup duty, Harvey again was given an opportunity following a disastrous offensive performance against Miami, in which the team accumulated a mere four rushing yards.
After the Knights laid an offensive egg in south Florida in which Harvey had zero rushing attempts, the coaching staff was seemingly grasping at straws, and Harvey was chosen as the starter against Tulsa, a game in which he showed off to players and coaches that he is the team's future at running back.
Harvey ran for 91 yards in a coming out party against the Golden Hurricane, but it wasn't the stats alone that impressed those inside the program.
O'Leary said how impressed he was with Harvey following the game and teammate Bruce Miller also agreed.
"He's running the ball great," said defensive end Bruce Miller, who noticed a huge difference in Harvey's patience and vision.
Last week, Harvey didn't put up great numbers against ECU, a large part of that though was due to poor blocking up front. Even though he ran for just 30 yards, Harvey again showed great awareness on the field.
In recent weeks though, the 6'1", 215 lb. Largo (Fla.) native has made strides off the field as well.
"He's matured a lot since he got here, he never used to talk to anybody and would be real quiet if coach asked him a question," said Nick Pieschel, one of Harvey's blockers."Now he's kind of focusing on what he needs to do because he's the number one guy, so he has to do good."
Miller, who regularly goes up against Harvey in practice, also has seen a difference in terms of poise.
"From my standpoint, it's a confidence level," said Miller. "He knows that he's going to be a running back and he's not always worrying about whether he's going to be in the next play or next game on whether he's going to be the guy.
While Harvey's increased confidence seems normal for a freshman, his growth in the locker room has been impressive as coaches view him as the quiet type.
"I think the big thing with him is he is very quiet and he has a good football mind," said O'Leary. "He is a typical freshman. They aren't too sure of themselves yet in a lot of areas. He takes everything in stride and I like that kind of player."
O'Leary also made a comparison to Smith and Harvey, although he did note the drastic personality differences.
"Brynn will never be a personality like Kevin Smith was. He is more of a quiet reserved guy who just goes out there and takes his coaching and gets his job done the best he can at an early stage."
While Harvey may never be as boisterous as Smith, he is certainly starting to show glimpses of possibly being the back that Smith was, or at least an effective replica.
Brynn Harvey Stepping Up
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