The Vandal defensive backfield sustained several personnel losses this off season and is looking at a talented group of recruits and youngsters in the system to step in and help immediately for the 2009 season. Add to this group sophomore JC transfer MATT HARVEY (5-11, 170) out of Ellsworth College in Iowa. “He was a big part of our defense,” his ECC coach said. “He has the speed and the tools.”
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With the 2009 recruiting class arrival in Moscow two weeks ago, the rebuilding process under Robb Akey’s coaching staff continues its third year at Idaho. Part of that strategy is to take advantage of the opportunities that come along.
Enter a fortunate break, as the Vandals have landed a new cornerback for the 2009 season in Matt Harvey, who has already participated in his first Vandal football practice. Harvey (5-10, 170) has three years of eligibility left, and enters the University of Idaho as a sophomore. He is expected to contribute immediately and he will wear No. 29 for the Vandals this fall.
Harvey graduated from Douglas High School in Coral Springs (Flor.). During his senior season in 2007 he saw time at wide receiver, corner back, and special teams. “One thing I can tell you is that he was the top 110 hurdler in Broward County (Florida), which is like saying he was the top hurdler in Southern California,” stated Ellsworth College head football coach Mike Virdin.
Mike Virdin and Idaho defensive coordinator Mark Criner were college teammates. After coaching at Meridian High School for 15 years, Virdin then coached football in Lauderdale Lakes, FL where he first met Matt Harvey.
AS A HIGH SCHOOL WIDE RECEIVER, as a junior Harvey caught 21 passes for 497 yards and seven touchdowns. As a senior in the state of Florida's biggest high school classification (6A), he was a team leader on both sides of the ball, including special teams. In a single phenominal game during his senior season, Harvey racked up 303 all-purpose yards, which included a kickoff return of 99 yards for a touchdown, 3 catches for 63 yards, 3 punt returns for 29 yards, a 77-yard kickoff return, 14 yards rushing, and a 21-yard interception return for a touchdown. "I just knew I had to do something big to get us going," he said after the game.
The effort caught the eye of numerous college recruiters, including coach Virdin.
“In high school we used him as a wide receiver, punt return guy, and corner,” Virdin told GoVandals.net. “He’s extremely athletic.”
After high school Harvey received about five scholarship offers, but was recruited to Ellsworth Community College in Iowa City (Iowa) by coach Virdin, who left the Florida high school coaching ranks not long before to coach at ECC.
During Harvey’s freshman year at ECC, he grabbed six interceptions and helped the Panthers to victory in the 2008 Graphic Edge Bowl. “He was a big part of our defense,” Virdin said of Harvey’s impact at ECC. “He has the speed and the tools.”
“You’re not going to find a better cover corner in the league,” added coach Virdin when asked about Matt Harvey’s contribution to the ECC Panthers football success.
JOINING THE IDAHO PROGRAM MID-WAY through fall camp will require a little time for the speedy Harvey to adjust. But we expect the transition to be swift. “Everybody showed me love and made me feel welcome,” Harvey told GoVandals.net.
Coach Virdin shares the sentiment that Harvey can make an impact at Idaho. “I was happy to see him [Harvey] find a spot,” Virdin told GoVandals.net. “If he had stayed, he could have a Big-10 offer.” Shortly after leaving Ellsworth Community College, Purdue University reportedly expressed interest in the speedy defender.
Fortunately for Idaho, he was already a Vandal.
Once again Idaho has recruited a player from a winning program and an athlete that is capable of immediate playing time; that brings athleticism; and brings more speed to the defensive backfield.
Based on Idaho’s needs in the defensive backfield and Harvey’s background, Vandal fans could have an opportunity to see Matt Harvey’s speed and athletic skills on the field as early as this fall.