Shaw head coach Al Pellegrino detailed the work long snapper TJ Harvey puts in on a regular basis. Harvey would get in extra snaps before practice then stick around once his teammates left to sharpen his skills. Pellegrino even remembers Harvey devoting time during lunch at Shaw to improve his ability.
On Friday, Harvey saw all that effort pay off with a scholarship offer. The next day, he made a decision about his future.
Harvey verbally committed to Southern Mississippi on Saturday. Harvey received an offer from the Golden Eagles the day before, and after taking some time to consider the new option, the rising senior made up his mind.
Harvey attended a camp at Southern Miss Friday and said he fell in love with the school once he got on the field. He had the chance to mingle with some of the team’s players and coaches, which only furthered his interest in the Conference USA school.
“It was an amazing experience, especially to be in a state I've never visited before,” Harvey said. “Honestly, I wasn't really worried about my performance (at the camp); I was just blessed to be there.”
Harvey received an offer once he got back home but held off on committing. He visited Georgia Southern the next day, but after giving it some thought, he reached a conclusion.
“After a lot of time with family and time to myself, I came to the conclusion that I could see myself in that black and gold jersey and not look back and regret a single thing. I knew it was home the minute I got there.
“I got on the phone with (head coach Jay Hopson) and told him, ‘Coach, I'm coming home.’”
Harvey explained Southern Miss was a good option from the playing aspect, as the team’s long snapper is a senior. Along with the free education, Harvey could be starting as a freshman in 2018. Next year’s season opener happens to be at Auburn, which would be a short drive for his friends and family in Columbus.
Pellegrino spoke highly of the new Southern Miss commit.
“TJ is a great kid and a good student,” Pellegrino said. “He’s one of those kids who’s got a great work ethic. Anybody who has great work ethic is going to be real successful and be a very vital part of your program. He can mold and really challenge the younger kids to perform at that level.”
Harvey’s dedication to perfect his play at long snapper is no secret around the Shaw Raiders football program. Those countless hours and reps ultimately led him to Southern Miss and the offer that made it all worthwhile.
“It was absolutely surreal,” Harvey said of receiving the offer. “It was the moment I had been working toward my whole life, and now it was a reality. It was like a dream come true.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports