Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Harkey Gets Late Start with Rams; Notebook; Graduation in Mid-June Kept Him from Participating in Previous Activities with Team

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Harkey Gets Late Start with Rams; Notebook; Graduation in Mid-June Kept Him from Participating in Previous Activities with Team

Article excerpt

Cory Harkey is late to the tight end party at Rams Park, but he's intent on making up for lost time.

An NCAA rule prohibits college players from participating professionally before they graduate. Harkey attended UCLA, which operates on the quarterly system. A history major, he finished the requirements toward his degree in time to participate in earlier Rams team activities.

But because he had yet to actually walk down the graduation aisle, he could not join the orientation sessions. Commencement ceremonies took place in mid-June.

Thus, the competition at the position got a head start on Harkey before he arrived at rookie camp this week. That's OK, the undrafted free agent is conceding nothing.

"Obviously, all the other guys are kind of one-up on me right now, being they've been here and been to meetings and been with the coaches," said Harkey, a formidable 6 feet 4, 260 pounds. "Right now, I'm just trying to get to where they're at.

"But it's pretty good for me, because I'm good about getting in the playbook and getting to know the system fast and well. All that stuff just kind of clicks for me. I pick it up fast."

Harkey might not know the system yet, but he has a good handle on a function of it - blocking. During his senior season, he started all 14 games for UCLA and caught just one pass for 10 yards in the Bruins' offense. But he was highly regarded as a blocker, especially adept at recognizing and picking up blitzes.

He also was valued for his character attributes. During the postseason team banquet, he was awarded the Jerry Long "Heart" Award and the Kenneth Washington Award for outstanding senior of the year by the UCLA coaching staff.

Harkey also has athleticism in the genes. His father, Michael Harkey, pitched for five different teams during eight major league seasons. He was 12-6 for the Chicago Cubs in 1990, the summer Cory was born. Mike Harkey is currently the bullpen coach for the New York Yankees. Moreover, Cory's older brother Tony played defensive end at Utah State.

Cory, who melted off 10 pounds to get ready for camp, knows his work is cut out for him in a crowded tight end class. He knows he has to demonstrate he can receive, as well as block. …

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