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High School Sports

Sierra Canyon’s DJ Harvey is willing to sacrifice sleep to study football

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Sierra Canyon cornerback DJ Harvey plays for Premium Sports in a seven-on-seven tournament in Irvine on April 28.
(Shotgun Spratling / Los Angeles Times)

DJ Harvey hasn’t learned the full benefits of resting his body. The Chatsworth Sierra Canyon High cornerback favors studying his opponents instead.

“It sounds ridiculous, but I will study to the point where I don’t go to sleep at all,” Harvey said. “I will study each and every one of your moves to see what’s your favorite route, and I’ll take that away from you. I will take your strengths and make it your weakness.”

Harvey also plays wide receiver for Sierra Canyon, so he uses his offensive experience to power his defensive knowledge.

It’s not just one receiver. Harvey said he studies each opposition’s wideouts because there are no NFL-style injury reports in high school to let you know when a player might miss a game. It’s that same attention to detail that has the 5-foot-10, 166-pound cornerback in the top 250 of 247Sports’ ranking of 2021 prospects and has pushed him onto college coaches’ radar.

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Harvey has received seven scholarship offers from colleges across the country, including Louisiana State in the Southeastern Conference, Nebraska and Rutgers in the Big Ten, and the Pac-12’s Oregon and Utah. He credits a push from seven-on-seven coach Malik James.

Harvey was thrown into the mix with James’ Premium Sports training team at a younger age than most. He got to learn from some of the top defensive backs in the area such as Mykael Wright (Oregon freshman cornerback), Max Williams (USC freshman cornerback) and Brandon Jones (Narbonne senior cornerback committed to Stanford) while facing off against players such as the nation’s top dual-threat quarterback, Bryce Young (Mater Dei senior committed to USC), during training.

“[James] threw me all in with them at a young age, so it made me have a little bit more confidence,” Harvey said.

James said his philosophy is to have his talented young players train against older players to show them they are capable of competing against the best. Then when they play with a younger team, they can dominate their age group.

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“We try to build confidence training with older guys, then play them with their age to display it and make sure that it’s their show” on the younger team, James said. “It had a huge impact on DJ. We cut him no slack, and he had guys like Mykael, Max, Jojo Forest and KJ Trujillo to follow after.”

Harvey will take over the reins of the top Premium seven-on-seven team next spring when he’s preparing to head into his senior year. That’s when he’s hoping to cut down his list of top colleges to five. His plan is to take official visits to each and then make a decision following his senior season.

“I’m looking for a team that’s going to let me play early, let me showcase my talents early instead of having to wait. Waiting is not a bad thing, but I want to get in there early,” Harvey said.

He plans to earn more offers and eventually trim his list to eight schools during his junior season. His Oregon and LSU offers stand out so far. There’s a familiarity with Oregon because the Ducks have a number of Southern California players and commits whom Harvey knows. At LSU, coach Ed Orgeron is a big draw.

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“Love Coach O. I had a great conversation with him, with me and my family,” Harvey said. “And I’ve been asking [Tigers cornerback commit] Elias Ricks about LSU. He said it’s a great program, so just getting thoughts from everybody’s perspective and me going out there to see it, it’s pretty good.”

Harvey is trying to “take one recruitment at a time. Not trying to rush anything. Each offer is surreal to me because I’ve been working since I was like 6 years old for this. Everything I’ve been working for is finally paying off.”

Including his lack of sleep.

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