Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Harvey Made Fast Break to Sack Specialist at UF; Coaches Say Sophomore Has Big Upside despite Limited Experience

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Harvey Made Fast Break to Sack Specialist at UF; Coaches Say Sophomore Has Big Upside despite Limited Experience

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL DIROCCO

GAINESVILLE - The Southeastern Conference's second-leading sacker had his beginnings on a high school basketball court in Maryland.

That's where Eleanor Roosevelt High football coach Rich Houchens first spotted Derrick Harvey in 2002. Houchens watched the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Harvey grab a rebound and dunk, then saw him use a chest bump to push a player who had taunted him to the floor.

"Come play football," Houchens asked Harvey after the game.

"OK," Harvey replied.

That quick conversation began Harvey's journey from basketball player to one of the best pass-rushers in the SEC. It has been a quick and fruitful journey.

At first shy in the weight room, Harvey soon blossomed into one of the Raiders' hardest workers. He was a starter at tight end and defensive end as a junior, and Houchens began telling scouts and recruiters that Harvey was someone they should come see.

Harvey provided the proof in the first game of his senior season against neighboring Severna Park High School.

"He had a coming-out party," Houchens remembered. "He had four, maybe five sacks, and I don't know how the quarterback survived it. It looked like [Michael] Strahan coming off the edge [Monday] night. He just came off the edge so quick. His first step was so quick and explosive."

That game came several days after Harvey told Houchens he was going to break the Maryland record for sacks.

"It wasn't an egotistical thing," Houchens said. "It was a desire to be the best. It's a fine line. I've seen some kids get full of themselves. He was so humble. It was him striving to be the best."

Said Harvey: "It was just a goal I set. I thought I could do it."

He did.

Harvey had 31 sacks as a senior and ended up being rated as one of the top three defensive ends and one of the top five recruits overall by several recruiting services.

Florida won out over Ohio State, Maryland and Tennessee, and Harvey arrived in 2004. There wasn't the same kind of instant success, though, because as dominant as Harvey was in high school, the SEC is another level. …

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