Jamal Harvey, the Rebs' sophomore safety from Jacksonville, FL, has the physical look all college coaches look for.
Long and lean with good speed and an urge to hit someone trying to invade his territory.
"I'm 6-2, 207 now. I haven't put on much weight, but all my weight is good weight. I'm quite a bit stronger than I was when I reported last summer and I can feel myself getting faster and quicker due to that extra strength," said the rangy competitor who played some last year as a true freshman SS.
It's easy to fall into the trap of looking out on the field, seeing a guy at safety who looks like former Arkansas great Steve Atwater and asking, "why isn't he playing more?"
One, he will be. Two, he's got the answer.
"I have to get into my playbook more. I'm right where I want to be in my progress and I'm working as hard as I can to correct my weaknesses, but when I look in the mirror, I realize I have to get better at knowing what to do in every possible situation with every call the coaches can make," he continued. "All the coaches tell me that I've got it, whatever it is, physically, but I have to be sharper mentally, so that is my focus this spring."
How is he coming in the mental quest to get it right?
"I feel I know both safety positions pretty well now, but it's obvious to me I've got to keep working to get it all down perfectly," Jamal explained. "I'll get where I want to go - which is being on the field every defensive snap, but I know I have work to do on the mental side."
Jamal is working in spring at free snd strong safety, he said, and he doesn't really have a preference.
"Strong safety and free safety are kind of interchangeable in this system - they do a lot of the same things, but SS may have more run support responsibilities, which means you can get physical more often, which I like," Harvey noted. "I like them both. I just want to be on the field."
Jamal said there's a lot of competition for the safety slots this year with RS frosh Allen Walker and Markeith Summers, junior Jamarca Sanford, recently-moved Kendrick Lewis and recently moved junior Terrell Jackson.
"We have a lot of good athletes in the two positions. I'm doing everything I can to get one of the starting jobs, but the competition is stiff. The coaches are looking for a rotation back there of four guys and I plan on being one of them," he added, "but I know I have to work hard and produce to get there."
Jamal feels like he has finally adjusted to the pace of college football and college life, but it took some time.
"I feel like I am going just as fast as everybody else now. It didn't start out that way, but I think I've caught on now with the demands," he smiled. "It's a tough transition because the average student or fan doesn't know the schedule we keep. It's hectic, but I feel like I can keep pace with everyone else on the team. That's what it takes, so you just do it."
Jamal said he had a bout of homesickness back during the season, but he's adjusted now.
"I know people in Mississippi don't think it's cold here, but someone from Florida has to get adjusted to the 30 degrees and 40 degrees we have here for a couple of months a year. I'm used to 85 just about year round," he laughed. "But you just have to put missing your Mom and your friends behind you and stick it out. Everyone goes through the same thing in college, whether you are from 100 miles away or 1,000 miles away.
"Even guys who are from Tupelo, for instance, don't get to go home too much because of the schedule we keep, so there's an adjustment for everyone."
Jamal said he believes he made an impression on the coaches last year on special teams and the times he was called upon to fill in for Sanford at SS, but he said it's an ongoing thing on this level.
"I made a good first impression, I believe, but that doesn't carry you far on this level. You have to make good second, third and fourth impressions. It's a what-have-you-done-for-me-today environment because it's so competitive," he closed. "You have to be on your toes all the time because someone else is wanting your job as badly as you do."
While that may be true, Jamal Harvey is confident he will come out on top.
He's betting on himself.
Jamal Harvey update -
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