‘Only the strong make it out’: How junior college experience molded Aarion Harvey into a Division I offensive lineman
A leap of faith turned into several Division I offers for Aarion Harvey.
After spending his first collegiate season at Hocking College, Harvey jumped to Hudson Valley Community College for his sophomore season. It was there where he put himself on the radars of several top-level teams and secured himself an opportunity to play at the highest level of college football.
Hudson Valley was where Harvey learned to play football for the love of the game. After all, that junior college does not have residential housing or meal plan available provided for student-athletes. Though the football played there was the same football he will play at Central Michigan this fall, the environment as a whole was different.
"Only the strong make it out, I feel like JUCO is a real struggle," Harvey said. "You’ve got to make everything, you’ve got to pay for everything."
That struggle accounts for the formation of his toughness, a trait that will fit in well with his fellow Chippewa offensive linemen. Harvey stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 305 pounds, meaning that he possesses the size to play right away for coach Jim McElwain. The Chippewas have holes to fill at center, right guard and left tackle after the departures of a trio of graduated seniors.
It wasn't always easy for Harvey. He admittedly comes from a less than ideal upbringing, but uses that as motivation.
"I don’t come from like a good spot or a good upbringing, so what drives me is just wanting to get out," Harvey said. "Me wanting different than what I ever had and wanting to be successful."
Harvey graduated from Penn Foster High School in Chicago, Illinois, and chose to continue his football career at Hocking. Though things didn't go as planned, he felt confident in his decision to go to Hudson Valley, even if it meant being hundreds of miles from home.
"When you pick a JUCO, you’ve got to make sure you’re surrounded by good people who are going to take good care of you," Harvey said. "The guys over there are real good people."
After the Vikings finished the season with five wins, Harvey began searching for a place to continue his career. Based on his size and showings throughout the 2019 campaign, many programs reached out. Despite drawing attention from Power Five schools, Harvey felt pulled back to the Midwest.
Central Michigan was waiting for him.
"I like the coaching staff," Harvey said. "I like the plan they've got and I like what they're about. It's truly a family. You want to be around good people, and that's what got me with Central."
Harvey projects as an offensive guard who will compete to play right away. He'll compete with the likes of sophomore guards Deyantei Powell-Woods and Danny Motowski to get on the field right away, but is willing to do whatever his team needs him to do.
In addition to that, Harvey joins the Chippewa offensive line ranks that has been home to first round draft picks Joe Staley and Eric Fisher. Though he was pitched on the pedigree within the program at his position, he knows that if he's going to make it, it's going to be his way.
"Honestly, I feel like everybody's got a different path," Harvey said. "So with (being drafted), I don't really know about that, it could be different. But I've definitely got goals."
With his latest jump, he's one step closer to achieving them.
Central Michigan's 2021 recruiting class currently includes:
Macomb Dakota HS 3-star RB/S DJ Stepney
Macomb Dakota HS 3-star WR/CB Eric Reese
Cincinnati (Ohio) Northwest HS 3-star ILB Diego Neri
River Rouge HS 3-star DT Pius Odjugo
Saginaw Heritage HS 3-star WR Chris Parker
Akron (Ohio) East HS S DeAnthony Becton
Marengo (Illinois) HS DE Jonah Pace
Ypsilanti Lincoln OG Trevor Jones
Hazelwood Central (Missouri) HS OT Kyle Long