Derrick Harvey is stepping up this spring

In 2003, Derrick Harvey was considered by many as the premier defensive end in the nation. He was the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year coming out of Franklin D. Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, a town that was created upon the signing of Roosevelt's New Deal. After redshirting his freshman year, Harvey was expected to make a solid contribution last season. He wasn't quite ready. However, it appears that his time spent learning the ropes are beginning to pay off.

Harvey was outstanding during last Saturday's scrimmage session. And with just a week remaining until the annual Orange and Blue game- the timing couldn't be better,

"I think it was my best practice," a grinning Harvey said. "I'm just trying to get better everyday."

He recorded two sacks and a tackle for loss in the first three series on Saturday. The 6-4 255 sophomore tallied six tackles, one sack, and only one tackle for loss in nine games last season. His best performances were against Louisiana Tech and Kentucky.

The absence of Ray McDonald this spring has actually helped Harvey. While it is doubtful the Florida defensive coaches would have used McDonald often, as they are well aware of his abilities, no player has taken advantage of the opportunity more than Harvey this spring.

"You get more focused the more football you play," Harvey said. "The reps have helped a lot. You learn more that way. You get experience the more you play and I needed that time."

Harvey has also benefited from the sound advice of his teammates. He laughed when asked if he could single out any of his teammates who have helped him the most. Apparently, there are many who happily pass advice along.

"I've been listening to the coaches and getting some advice from my teammates," he said. "It's a team effort here, and everybody has been helping me out. Everybody."

Tough competition from opposite end Jarvis Moss hasn't hurt either. Moss has been tremendous this spring. The coaching staff is also aware of Moss' talents, which translates to hoping Harvey puts it all together this spring. It appears that he doing just that.

"Jarvis and I try to see who can get back there the quickest," Harvey stated. "We compete to see who can get the most sacks and pressure on the quarterback. He's tough."

Still, with a little more than 19 weeks until kickoff, Harvey has plenty of work to do, including adding some size to his already impressive frame.

"I have to work on my technique on the pass rush and the run block, like the steps and stuff," he added. "I have to work on my whole technique this summer and get better before the fall. I'm 255 right now. I'm trying to get to 270 before the fall."

Are you going to be able to keep that speed?

"Oh, yeah. I'll keep it. I'd better keep it."

Enjoying his finest practice performances since suiting up for the Gators, Harvey appears to have settled on a New Deal himself.

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