Trandon Harvey playing w/ confidence

PULLMAN—It's been a long five years for Trandon Harvey. As one of the most experienced wide receivers on the Washington State football team, the redshirt senior has endured injuries, insults and inconsistency during his time with the Cougars. Heading into the homestretch of his final season, all Harvey wants is a chance to end his career, as he says, "with a bang."

Each of WSU's opening-day starting receivers—Jason Hill, Michael Bumpus and Chris Jordan—have missed at least one game due to injury this season, allowing Harvey to step in as a valuable backup.

When Hill went down during a Week 4 loss to Oregon State, it was Trandon Harvey who came off the bench to catch four balls for 92 yards. The next week, when Hill and Jordan were unable to play against Stanford, Harvey was a starter, and caught three passes for 60 yards. In seven games so far in primarily limited duty, he has totaled 10 receptions for 179 yards.

"With the guys we have, not everyone has gotten a chance to play," said receivers coach and offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller." But when they do, it's up to them to seize the opportunity. Trandon is someone who's seized the opportunity."

Trandon Harvey was an undervalued performer in 2003, making a number of clutch catches during WSU's 10-win season.

Harvey will get the chance again this Saturday against No. 1 USC. With Bumpus sidelined by an ankle injury, Harvey, in addition to increased reps at receiver, is one of the top candidates to fill in as the Cougars' punt returner, something he has never done in college.

"Somebody has to step up. Why not me?" says Harvey.

Harvey is one of the smaller receivers on the team at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, but is perhaps the best blocker among his colleagues. His downfield blocking was exemplary when Jerome Harrison turned in what was the then-third best ever total for a Cougar back with 247 rushing yards against UCLA last season. Levenseller has high praise for Harvey's blocking skills, as well as his senior leadership and football knowledge, a sentiment echoed by teammates.

"He knows what to do," said Jordan. "He knows all the (receiver) positions and knows everyone's assignment, so he can fill in anywhere."

Starting safety Eric Frampton calls Harvey a fierce competitor. "He's tough to stop," says Frampton. "He runs some of the best routes I've seen. He really understands how to run routes."

HARVEY CAME TO WSU from Sweetwater High in National City, Calif., a suburb of San Diego, where he was a teammate of former Cougars running back Allen Thompson. He appeared in nine games as a true freshman and caught seven passes, including one touchdown. The next year, he missed all but one game with a knee sprain and used his redshirt.

Says fellow receiver Chris Jordan; "He knows all the (receiver) positions and knows everyone's assignment, so he can fill in anywhere."

He came back from the injury in 2003 and was an underrated contributor on a 10-3 WSU squad, overshadowed in a receiving corps that boasted Devard Darling, Scott Lunde and Sammy Moore. Yet despite catching three passes in WSU's Holiday Bowl win over Texas, Harvey also dropped two passes for what would have been first down yardage, serving as an omen for things to come.

The 2004 season was supposed to be a breakout year for Harvey. With Darling, Lunde and Moore all gone, the competition was wide open to start at receiver. And as the team's second-leading returning receiver (behind Jordan), Harvey was as good a candidate to start as anyone. However, things didn't go as planned. In addition to the emergence of Hill and Bumpus, Harvey also had problems with dropped balls and an overall lack of focus.

"Last year was my worst year, by far," Harvey said this week. "I had some off-the-field distractions."

It may have seemed like more, but Harvey was credited with five dropped passes last season. Still, between drops in crucial situations -- such as two drops during WSU's last-chance drive in a loss to Oregon -- and drops on seemingly easy passes, he became an easy target for media, fans and even, according to Harvey, his own family and friends.

Harvey sought out advice from coaches and then put in the hours this past offseason. The results have been apparent this this season with Harvey making a number of clutch grabs.

"Midway through the season, it really did get to me," he said of the criticism. "I was listening to everyone talk about me, and it got to me."

Despite putting up respectable numbers in '04 (18 catches, 203 yards, 2 touchdowns), Harvey knew he needed help. He went to Levenseller and defensive backs coach Ken Greene once the season ended, and both coaches gave him face-to-face advice as well as reading material on self-confidence and motivation. Harvey also took a summer school psychology course on self-confidence. He also put in extra time and caught a ton of passes in the off-season, honing his concentration.

"I used to get lackadaisical when the ball hung in the air," he said.

BY THE TIME his senior year began, Harvey had a new outlook on football and on life.

"Now, there's no way anybody -- my family, the media, no one -- can say anything to get me down like I was last year," Harvey said. "I know that if you throw it to me, it's gonna get caught."

• Quarterback Alex Brink looked better than he did Tuesday. Brink threw one interception against the scout team, but otherwise looked solid with his passes. Josh Swogger has been consistently sharp all week.

• Cornerback Omowale Dada was back on the field and ran with the first unit, showing no effects of the groin injury which had sidelined him all week.

• It was a no-pads, no-contact, walk-through day for the Cougars.

Lorenzo Bursey has been added to the pot of potential punt returners, as he took turns fielding punts with Trandon Harvey and Marty Martin.

Erik Coleman, Cougar great and current New York Jets safety, was in town and visited practice. The Jets have a bye this week.

• After driving rain on Wednesday, Thursday was sunny but cold.

• Jersey-switchers included Scott Davis and Bryan Olson, and Xavier Hicks and Mike Graise.

Dwight Tardy missed practice for the second straight day with a knee injury.

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