ASU football's Jalen Harvey looking to build off big plays vs. Arizona

Harvey is trying to make the most of his opportunity following an early injury

ASU football redshirt freshman wide receiver Jalen Harvey had to wait for his opportunity.

Whether it was his redshirt season last year or indecision regarding his position to injuries, something had always held him back.

That was, until the second quarter of the Territorial Cup game, when he seized his moment – and then some. 

Redshirt senior quarterback Mike Bercovici found Harvey (who was lined up on outside along the far sideline) streaking downfield past Arizona redshirt junior cornerback DaVonte' Neal for an over-the-shoulder 41-yard touchdown catch. 

"I got my release, took off running and I just saw the ball magically come my way and I was like, 'I got to really run at it' and I caught it and it was there," Harvey said. "I kind of blacked out when I scored because it was my first TD. It was a wonderful feeling."

It was the first catch and touchdown of his ASU career, a personal victory after a devastating setback came before the 2015 season officially kicked off.  

This time, it was a broken collarbone during Camp Tontozona that limited him until his first game against Washington State on Nov. 7.

"It's been really hard," Harvey said. "I really tried not to downgrade myself. Every time I'd get home practice, I'd be like, 'I can do a whole lot for the team,' and as the weeks went by coach (Delvaughn) Alexander just told me to get ready."

Redshirt senior Devin Lucien said the injury was untimely given the progress Harvey had made during fall camp.

"I remember when he went down at Tontozona, and I knew exactly when he went down that he broke his collarbone," Lucien said. "I remember taking him to the side and talking to him and he just starting bawling a little bit. I told him that he'd be fine, and to see him come out and make the plays he's making is great."

Harvey's forte comes with being a physical, possession-style receiver that has been missing from the Sun Devil offense with the loss of Jaelen Strong.

"When I think about Jalen Harvey, I just think about physicality, just the fact that, when the ball's in the air, Jalen's going to come down with it or nobody is," Bercovici said.

Harvey said he relishes the ability to play with contact.

"Not only going up for the ball, but just blocking because I love blocking," Harvey said. "The aggressiveness — I love it. That's me. That's my play style. If I don't play aggressive, I don't really know what type of play style I'm going to go into the game with."

That aggressiveness came back to bite him later in the game, as he drew two offsides calls while playing on special teams. Coach Todd Graham, while unhappy with the penalties, didn't mind the aggressive play.

"I'll tell you this, I like you've got to tell him to whoa and not go," Graham said. "He's a competitor. He is a passionate guy. And that was a big-time play on the big home run shot that he caught."

Harvey will have extra motivation entering Saturday's game against Cal, as the El Cerrito, California native originally committed to the Golden Bears before test scores forced him to consider other options.

Eventually, Tempe came calling.

"Man, it's a big game," Harvey said. "I don't even know the words (to describe it). It's not with me, you know, being committed there and then de-committing to come here. It's not all about just me going into the game. It's about doing what I can do for the team."

Harvey's big play was just a part of an explosive pass attack that came to life for the first time all season in the 52-37 win. Lucien took home Bob Moran MVP honors after notching nine catches for 190 yards and a touchdown in the win.

"You always wish it happened towards the beginning of the season so we could be more of a threat in the vertical game to open up everything else, but everything happens for a reason," Lucien said. "Hopefully we can keep it going for these last couple games."

Practice Notes:

- Stretch songs: "Stanky Legg" by GS Boyz, "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line and "March Madness" by Future.

- Junior wide receiver Cam Smith, who is out for the season with an undisclosed knee injury, participated in individual ball security drills for the first time all season.

- Junior college transfer Deonte Reynolds returned to practice after he was injured in a shooting last month. He was not directly involved in the conflict, and was not wearing shells with the rest of his team.


Reach the reporter at fardaya@asu.edu or follow @fardaya15 on Twitter.

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