Loyal Cougars

Harvey Jackson commitment: What BYU is getting, and how it’s a sign coaches want to make a splash in 2014

Nebraska defenders Harvey Jackson (1) and Corey Cooper (6) tackle Southern Miss running back Kendrick Hardy (29). Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports Nebraska defenders Harvey Jackson (1) and Corey Cooper (6) tackle Southern Miss running back Kendrick Hardy (29). Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
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BYU’s third graduate transfer, safety Harvey Jackson, marks a trend that shows what coaches expect in 2014.

A  week after rumors began about a D-I transfer for BYU’s defense, Nebraska safety Harvey Jackson has decided to play at BYU. Jackson will be eligible to play in 2014 as long as his graduation from Nebraska in June happens as planned. Cincinnati and West Virginia were reportedly the other leaders for Jackson’s services.

harvey jackson commit card

Jackson had 33 tackles for the Cornhuskers as a junior in 2013, starting early in the season and then seeing his role diminish as the season wore on. He started the first three games, played in the first ten, and then did not see the field in the Huskers’ final three games. Out of high school, Jackson was rated as a four-star player with offers from Arizona State, Baylor, Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Utah.

I enlisted the help of Brandon Cavanaugh (@eightlaces) of HuskerCorner.com to help us learn more about Jackson:

Video: Harvey Jackson Nebraska Highlights

LOYAL COUGARS: What are Harvey Jackson’s strengths as a player? Weaknesses? Describe his game from the eyes of Brandon Cavanaugh.

HUSKER CORNER: If you’re trusted with a safety position in Bo Pelini’s defense, that says something. Safety is often where Pelini puts his smartest defensive backs that weren’t born to be cornerbacks. His awareness is above average, so if there’s a tip drill situation, having a guy who’s 6’2″ is obviously a positive.

The two main weaknesses that I’ve seen are the two that I hate most (no personal offense meant). He has a habit for going low on tackles (you’re talking to a guy who preaches form until his throat goes hoarse). Even worse, he’s kept his head down while doing so more often than not, taking himself out of a play completely.

LC: What were the factors involved in Jackson’s shrinking role in 2013, going from starter to contributor to sitting the bench?

HC: As an upperclassman, I think Bo expected more out of Harvey. The UCLA loss didn’t help as Pelini was likely going over every botch with a fine-toothed comb. Aside from that, Nebraska’s simply brought in better talent and players that picked up their role within Pelini’s system faster. Corey Cooper and Leroy Alexander really hit their strides as the season went on which, as you mentioned, is when we saw Jackson less and less.

LC: What is the perception of Harvey Jackson in the locker room and off the field — if much is known from that angle.

HC: Well, he volunteered his time for hospital visits, YMCA events, etc. He was your standard Husker superstar for kids. I don’t know him personally, but I think he knew that he was a hero to children and likely made their days because of the jersey he wore.

LC: From where you sit, in the range from Tommie Frazier to Bill Callahan, how excited should BYU fans be about Jackson’s addition?

HC: *Laughs* I don’t know if I could put a name to it, but I think you’ll be happy with Harvey. He seems like nothing short of a team player and Bo’s system isn’t easy to master. He’ll be in a fresh environment, get a clean slate and want to make Cougar fans proud.

Page 2: Impact and meaning of Jackson’s addition

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14 Comments

  1. Ben Burt

    April 17, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    You said it, the main think we’re worried about is the offensive line. Thanks for the write-up.

  2. Aaron

    April 17, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    D-line concerns me most. Peck seems below average, Johnson seems out of shape and Rowley is fresh off a mission.

  3. brandon.jones

    April 17, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    In Bronco’s interview with the media, Brandon Gurney asked him which positions still had depth concerns (listen here at the 3:45 mark: http://www.ksl.com/podcast/audio/2014_04_04_byu_interviews_BYU_Head_Coach_Bronco_Mendenhall.mp3)
    Bronco replied that he felt the team was one player away at inside linebacker and also at safety. It seems like this transfer solves one of those concerns.

  4. BYU Grounds

    April 17, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Just think what Harvey can in the 2-4-5 alignment Bronco used a couple of years ago. Harvey is a small linebacker. We can use him against pass happy teams. Also with the extra d linemen this year don’t be surprised to see a 4-2-5 alignment like TCU at times as well.

  5. Wes

    April 17, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Thanks for the article. Cavanaugh confirmed my one thought upon watching Jackson’s highlights for the first time. They were his best tackles – and they are all diving at legs. I hope the BYU coaches can fix this, because a safety who can’t tackle is a liability, to say the least.

    I’ll agree that the offense is “fixed” when I see massive improvement from the O-line. I wish it weren’t true, but a team is only as good as it’s O-line.

  6. Steve

    April 17, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Holy cow!!! Let’s start playing! This article pumps me up!

  7. Dan

    April 17, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I would hope that the coaches would be “all in” every year. I would, however, agree that this season is shaping up to be special.

    I was under the impression that coaches are not allowed to approach players from other teams about transferring. Is it possible that all these D1 transfers are approaching BYU?

    As I see it, these transfers are good players that were not getting the playing time they wanted at their previous college for whatever reason. I think they see BYU as a good fit for a number of reasons.

    First, BYU runs a fast, up-tempo offense that gives players more opportunities to shine. If they are looking to make it to the next level, they see an opportunity to contribute on a good, maybe not great, team and make a little noise for themselves.

    Second, on the defensive side, BYU has turned out some outstanding defenses recently with some players getting opportunities to play in the NFL. Once again, an opportunity to shine on a good team.

    Third, I think they are all aware that every BYU football game is likely to be on TV and, most likely ESPN, giving them an opportunity to show their skills as BYU’s games tend to be at off times, sometimes being the only game on. That has got to be very appealing to someone wanting to get noticed.

    Since most of these transfer do not have a prior affiliation with BYU or the Church, this is the theory that I have come up with. What do you think? Does my theory have merit?

  8. Jared vdH

    April 18, 2014 at 7:57 am

    I believe the transfer rules regarding communication is that you can’t talk someone into deciding to transfer, but once they officially decide to seek a transfer they’re free game for anyone to talk to.

    I think it basically works out that since they’ve graduated, their Letter of Intent and Scholarship agreement are no longer binding, since they’ve now graduated. It’s the reverse part of the “student”-athlete rule.

  9. Jared vdH

    April 18, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Neglected to mention this also – regarding the coaches “wanting to make a splash”. I think this is actually happening with an eye on the 2015 season. I don’t think BYU’s SOS in 2014 is such that if they went undefeated, they’d get into the playoff, however they’d almost certain end up in the top 10 and in the national conversation.

    But Bronco’s said before that BYU would likely need multiple undefeated seasons to have a legitimate shot. Thus if we can manage a undefeated or one loss 2014, it makes our chances in 2015 much better to get into the playoff if we can also manage to go undefeated.

    • Brett Hein

      April 18, 2014 at 9:18 am

      Right — I meant to but apparently failed to mention I don’t think the playoff is possible this season. What we used to call “BCS Bowls” are possible though, and that would be a huge step for the program if it happened.

  10. Justin Whiting

    April 18, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Good write up. I don’t think anyone should be too carried away, that we are getting someone that is going to start and hopes to go pro, but the depth and his experience should be nice. However, these late additions have never happened in the past and it seems to me that having a full time recruiter on staff has made a world of difference this year in the people that are coming.

  11. Dod

    April 19, 2014 at 4:44 am

    I love how these sites say he was a ‘four star’ out of high school when 1 site out of 4 had him at 4 and the other 3 had him at 3 stars. But no mention of that, let’s just all ignore that and round up.

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