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August 11, 2003

Grounded: Harvey doesn't let hype get to him

With a scholarship offer that reads like a who's who of college football, daily calls from reporters and people asking every day where you're going to go, it would be easy to get a big head and get caught up in the hype and attention.

But five-star weakside defensive end Derrick Harvey of Greenbelt (Md.) Roosevelt isn't letting the pressure of being one of the nation's best get to him.

In fact, he thrives on it.

"I love it," he said. "It would be so easy to get a big head from all of this, but I'm a grounded person. My family, my coaches and everybody around me keeps me humble and focused on the right things. I know what I need to get accomplished to get to where I want to get."

And that place is the NFL someday, he said.

"I want to be a prime-time player," he said.

"I've set my mind to being the best that I can be, and I'm going to go about doing things the right way and taking each day one step at a time."

That might explain why Harvey, who has more than 25 scholarship offers from some of the nation's top teams and is ranked as a franchise player and a five-star prospect by Riavls.com, isn't going to rush into the recruiting process or make a rash decision.

"My latest offers came from Oklahoma, Ohio State, Kansas State and West Virginia," he said.

"Those are the last few ones that I can remember."

Add those to the list of teams like Boston College, Florida, Maryland, Miami, USC, Tennessee, UCLA, Virginia and well, you get the picture. Some think Maryland is his top team, but Harvey said he's wide open to everybody.

But what is clear is that he's a rare find with unlimited upside.

"I never thought any of this would happen," Harvey, who is 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, said. "I guess what the schools like is that they think I have a good upside. I was always a very good athlete, but football is something that I'm just learning. I'm not a great football player yet. I'm a very good athlete. I'm going to work hard to become a great athlete and a great football player by the time I hit college."

His coach knows that Harvey is already special but can be even more rare by the time he develops in college.

"He is just a natural," Rick Houchens, the coach at Roosevelt, said.

"He is a very coachable kid. He has a great work ethic, along with a strong desire to be the best in whatever he does. He has the mindset that he doesn't want to settle for anything less. He is a kid with serious potential. He is just an example for other kids that you don't have to be a football player for 10 years to be successful."

Not bad at all, considering that this will be only Harvey's second season of organized football. He admits that basketball was his first love, but now he sees his future on the gridiron and is enjoying every minute of the spotlight.

"I'm very pumped up about the attention that I've gotten," he said. "I'm excited about all of them. I've gotten offers from all the big ones. It's crazy. I want to play for a program that has good coaches, good academics, where I can play pretty early and win a national championship.

"I think a few of the schools on my offer list give me great chances to do that."

Harvey said that he plans to make his first cut on his list of schools down to around 10 or 15 around September 1. After that he'll get it down to a more manageable number between five and 10, but for now, he's focused on his senior season and staying grounded along the way.

"There is just something about football that you have to love," he said. "I love getting those sacks and getting the crowd pumped up. Hearing them cheer for you, is amazing."


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