Virginia Tech dialed long distance to extend DJ Harvey's offer. The Sierra Canyon HS (greater Los Angeles) product recounted the call he received from an unknown number, Tech coaches Justin Hamilton and Beau Davidson were on the line.
"They said, 'hey, we just watched and we really love your film,'" said Harvey.
Some coaches told Harvey that his film was too long, and they didn't study the whole thing. That wasn't the case with Davidson and Hamilton.
"They said they couldn't take their eyes off the film," said Harvey. "When that happens, you know you have a school that's really down to earth for you."
The 247Sports Composite rates the 5'11", 170 cornerback as a four-star (0.9011), the 26th overall recruit for the 2021 cycle in California. Last season, Harvey recorded 4 INT's, 35 tackles, and 2,175 all-purpose yards.
Harvey received offers from all over the western half of the country, but not as much attention from any east coast schools. So, when the Hokies kept calling, Harvey noticed.
"I was shocked," said Harvey of the Hokies' pursuit of him.
He was able to visit Blacksburg on March 1st as part of the program's first "Midnight Madness" recruiting event.
"It was cool," said Harvey. "You know how people say you have to go to LSU, Alabama, Clemson to really know what it's about? You have to go to Virginia Tech. People can't really describe it. But when you actually get there and you go it's a whole different feeling to that place. It's a whole different spiel to it. So, I've been telling people, when you have the opportunity to go you need to go. Because I want to go again. That was just my mindset, and I just want to see it again."
Harvey has the Hokies among his top group along with Southern California, Texas, Oregon, and California. He plans to see his first game in Lane Stadium when Penn State travels to Blacksburg this fall.
Harvey acknowledges that it's a bit against the grain for an LA kid to look at a school in Virginia. But the change of scenery is something that Harvey has a positive and mature spin on.
"If you're from the west coast you want to stay at home," said Harvey. "When you [have] a school [that's] at home and you know that he's on the west coast and he doesn't like the cold, why would he go somewhere where it's cold? Personally, I don't mind the cold. If you play on the west coast you don't play in the cold. But let's say you get drafted to the Eagles, the Philadelphia Eagles. That's cold, like, you're not gonna be ready for that. You're gonna be like freezing."
The Hokies are up against stiff competition in the courtship of Harvey. Southern California, Texas, and Oregon are all recruiting powers with their own style and flare. But Harvey sees the new look Hokies as a real competitor on the trail.
"They're different. They're a different school than Texas, USC, or Oregon," said Harvey.
"USC has this 'we run the west coast' type of deal. Oregon, they have this swagger with the uniforms. Everyone knows that. Texas, they're southern people who just love the game of football and most of those kids have no other thing in their life except football. Virginia Tech has all of those in one, and I think they're trying to get some kids from those areas to see that."
Two of the latest additions to the Hokies' staff, Hamilton and cornerbacks coach Ryan Smith, have provided a major source of interest for Harvey.
"Those are two great guys," said Harvey. "They reached out and called me and I had the opportunity to watch some film with them. And that was great because you don't get a lot of coaching pointers like that from college coaches."
Harvey is a self-proclaimed film junkie, so he ate the opportunity.
"When you're familiar with the game and they're familiar with the game and you can talk about strategy and coaching tips and stuff, there's just a whole different feel to it."
Harvey has an approach to game preparation that is well beyond his years. It's a mentality that was built through his youth football and training program, Premium Sports. Specifically, it was an 8th grade youth coach, Fred Lewis, that had the biggest impact on Harvey.
"He turned me into the animal that I need to be," said Harvey. "When I first got to Sierra at 14. They didn't think I would know the other team's receivers, but I came in and told them everything and they were kind of shocked."
That professional approach to the game is what Harvey thinks is his best attribute.
"I think people can take the game seriously, but they don't really think about what they have to do in that game," said Harvey.
"They don't know what they really have to do. I watch a lot of film during the week, so I know your tendencies. I will literally write you down in my head. So, I know if you love to run your in routes at this step all the time, when I line up like this, I'm going to bait you into it. So, I'm going to set you up in a way that you're going to have to respect it. It's all about film study."
That film study translates to incredible quickness to read and react. Harvey read the inside hook route below and baited the quarterback into thinking he had space and time to make the throw.
Moreover, on the next play Harvey remained disciplined and focused his eyes on the quarterback's head movement and kept the play in front of him while he dropped back in zone coverage. He high-pointed the football over a taller receiver and scored six.
On this next clip, Harvey demonstrates his cover skills that justify his ranking. He stuck with a speedy receiver and read his hips. Harvey showed great body control. He stuttered, stopped, then regained his speed in quick succession. Then when the receiver raised his head and hands for the ball, Harvey turned his head and body toward the quarterback and made the interception.
He's an incredibly smooth athlete. His movements are quick and fluid, and nothing ever appears labored.
Hamilton and Smith have communicated they're willing to put him anywhere on the field where he can make an immediate impact.
"They want to put me everywhere that they can to put me in a spot to succeed," said Harvey. "If that's playing safety, or playing offense, or playing special teams, doesn't matter. They want to do whatever they can to get me on the field. If that means I play nickel my freshman year, then safety my sophomore year, then corner my junior year that's fine as long as I can succeed and help the team."
"If you go to college, and you know that's the number one receiver in the country across from you, you know you're going to get his best shot. You have to be ready for that. You have to be ready to do whatever it takes to both help your team and to do your job. You do that, and your teammates do that, then you're going to win every time."