Akron senior Kent St. redshirt junior Eugene Jarvis, as the leading returning rusher in college football, will get some love. He is this year’s Garrett Wolfe (remember the diminutive NIU back?). There will be the inevitable stories that mentions his recruiting.
Angry at Pitt for giving his scholarship to a bigger running back. Angry at West Virginia for going in another direction. Angry at every coach that took one look at him and decided the 5-foot-5, 170-pound sparkplug was too small to play major college football.
So, every time Jarvis steps onto the field he runs with a purpose to show what everyone but Kent State missed out on.
“I’ve been criticized about my size my whole life pretty much,” said Jarvis, a junior with the Golden Flashes. “Coming from high school to college that was always a big issue in recruiting. I had a lot of coaches that backed off me because of my size. At the same time, I just use that as motivation. Every game I go out with a chip on my shoulder trying to prove people wrong.”
That’s good. He plays angry. It works for him. It’s a common motivator. In college, it’s the teams that passed on you. In the pros, it’s all those who were drafted ahead.
Just to recap, though, as I recall why Pitt pulled his scholarship offer (and it was just an offer, Jarvis hadn’t given a verbal). Part of it was Jarvis’ own hubris. He had an early offer from Pitt, but was convinced he was going to get a lot more offers to pick and choose. Those offers never materialized, and Jarvis quickly found out that he didn’t have the leverage or reputation he thought he had to make teams wait on his decision.
Pitt got two verbals early from RBs LaRod Stephens (he hadn’t added the -Howling at that point) and Irv Brown (now a safety). While the offer was pulled after Brown committed, it was Stephens’ verbal that was the main reason. Both Jarvis and Stephens were similar in size and build (though, Stephens is about 2 inches taller). Stephens heard and actually listened to the Pitt coaches and his own about not taking too long to make a decision.
Jarvis also had academic concerns that added into teams backing away from him (which Stephens didn’t have), in addition to being a little too convinced of his own greatness.
Now is the time to remember that Jarvis is 5-foot-6, 165 pounds. That his academic standing — he claims to be qualified for freshman eligibility — is in question. And that he made some comments last spring that irked Pitt’s staff.
When a Pitt fan-based Internet recruiting site asked Jarvis about the Panthers, he said something to the effect of knowing that at least he can play Division I football.
At the time, it sounded like he was making the Panthers an afterthought, a fallback plan if bigger and better schools didn’t come through.
I don’t have the link to that article, but yes. Yes it did. I remember at the time, not wanting Pitt to waste any more time on the kid.
The other amusing thing about the latter article is how fawning Kevin Gorman was over Jarvis at the time, “Jarvis has unique football instincts, a combination of acceleration, elusiveness, quickness and vision that are uncommon. He’s a miniature version of Tony Dorsett, and Pitt has been waiting for his second coming since 1976.”
To be fair, Jarvis had a fantastic senior season at Central Catholic. Still, the number of offers went down rather than up. Pitt, WVU and even Bowling Green all pulled offers. Only Temple, Akron and Kent State remained.
Final thought. That chip and confidence that Jarvis has serves him well. How, though, would he have handled being supplemented by a back like LeSean McCoy? LaRod Stephens-Howling has been all about the team and making it work well. I don’t think he would have been able to put on the same happy face.