UCF running back RJ Harvey has come full circle. A local product from Edgewater High School in Orlando, he was once heavily recruited by UCF. But Harvey ended up at Virginia in hopes of playing quarterback. A year later he was back in Orlando, this time as a running back—and slowly but surely has established himself as one of the best backs in the Big 12 Conference, if not the nation. He has produced five straight 100-yard rushing efforts (best streak since 2007 at UCF) and is already past the 1,000-yard mark for the season, highlighted by a career-best 206 yards and three touchdowns last Saturday in the headline win over 15th-rated Oklahoma State. A star in the classroom as well, he already has his UCF degree and has been a dean’s list selection in multiple semesters and an American Athletic Conference All-Academic pick. The Knights heavily promote the notion of keeping the best central Florida athletes at home (at UCF)—and, after the stop in Charlottesville, Harvey has become the best example of that. Here is his story:
I started playing flag football when I was 5 years old. My dad (Robert who played cornerback at Bethune-Cookman from 1987-90) taught me how to play football. He coached me up until high school. I started playing quarterback when I was maybe 7 or 8 and all the way through high school and one year at Virginia.
My little sister (Alaina) plays softball (pitcher and third base) at Allen University in South Carolina, a D-II program. My older sister ran track in high school. My cousin is Roy Jones Jr., the boxer.
In 2016 at Edgewater (High School in Orlando) we finished 0-12. Then Coach (Cameron) Duke came in 2017 and started building the (football) program. I ran track, too, played a little basketball, and I actually started playing baseball before I played football.
I had a lot of college offers to be an athlete and a running back, but I had a few offers to play quarterback. The best opportunities to play quarterback were Georgia Tech and Virginia. I wanted to be a quarterback—that’s what I went up to Virginia to do.
UCF recruited me hard in high school. They wanted me as a running back because they had DG (former UCF and current Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel) to play quarterback. They used to bring McKenzie Milton out to my games. Coach (Anthony) Tuck (Tucker), Coach (Josh) Heupel, Coach (Jeff) Lebby—those three wanted me to come to play running back at UCF bad. I just didn’t want to do it.