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August 22, 2008

Recalling Eugene Jarvis

Filed under: Football,History,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:46 am

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.





Not to be a stickler Chas, but Jarvis is a RS JR at Kent State, not a SR at Akron.

He also led the NCAA in rushing last year with 1800 some odd yards.

Comment by Jon In Cbus 08.22.08 @ 9:26 am

*Jarvis led the MAC w/ 1600+ yds.

Comment by ChrisA 08.22.08 @ 11:58 am

Jon,

You are right about the redshirt. Corrected.

Jarvis was the 7th leading rusher last year (1669 yards), but the only one who is back this year.

link to web1.ncaa.org

Comment by Chas 08.22.08 @ 12:30 pm

My bad on the yards…brain fart.

Comment by Jon In Cbus 08.22.08 @ 2:22 pm

OK….off subject and this is mainly for Men’s basketball season ticket holder’s…Did anyone receive their season renewal form in the mail yet?…I ask b/c the renewal deadline is September 12, 2008 and it seems like the ticket office should have them out by now! Your input would be great!

Comment by Jason 08.22.08 @ 3:39 pm

So who does he play for? Akron or Kent State? Chas says Akron, but the article says he plays for the Kent State Golden Flashes.

Comment by gopittgo 08.22.08 @ 3:59 pm

Yes, we got our renewal form a week ago…maybe 2 weeks…

Comment by Stuart 08.22.08 @ 4:29 pm

How wears the pants, Stu?

Comment by Jester 08.22.08 @ 4:43 pm

Bring back 150 lb fb. Horses for courses.

Comment by steve 08.22.08 @ 4:51 pm

I remember the situation as Chas does and anybody who says that Pitt passed him over is a revisionist or hardcore Central Catholic apologist. No disrespect to any Central alumni on the page, but I remember some letters in the PG that Zeise fielded blasting Pitt for not being on this kid’s nuts. The coaching staff made it pretty clear that they had room for one kid in his mold and LaRod pulled the trigger first. Let’s also not forget that Rashaad Jennings was in the same class as a tailback and he looked to have a promising Pitt career in front of him before transferring for personal reasons.

Chas also left out one of the most intriguing subplots of the Jarvis saga, which I think is the reason his ego was disproportionately inflated.

The summer before Jarvis’ Junior season, former Pitt commit and current Akron RB Andrew Johnson (going into his Senior season) had some kind of eligibility situation at Central Catholic. Consequently he transferred to North Hills and Jarvis became Central’s feature back and had a statistically superior season to Johnson.

Thus Jarvis had a lot of hype, which was undoubtedly earned, since his star outshined the 5-star RB who ended up committing to Miami. But as Chas reminds us, the offers never materialized.

Comment by johnny 08.22.08 @ 4:53 pm

“Central” Catholic? As long as I remember many Catholic high schools add “Central” to their town’s name. Thanks for any insights.

Comment by steve 08.22.08 @ 5:05 pm

Pittsburgh Central Catholic…my bad.

Comment by johnny 08.22.08 @ 6:41 pm

Jester – how much did you donate and how much did your tickets cost this year?

Comment by Stuart 08.22.08 @ 8:33 pm

Jarvis is at K state and Andrew Johnston is at Akron.

Comment by alcofan 08.22.08 @ 10:33 pm

Andrew Johnson…likely not even on the two-deep at Akron. Ouch.

It’s good for Jarvis that he ended up at a place where he’s been able to find some success.

But this is taking on the same tone as the Joe Flacco thing, where most of the Pitt critics conveniently forget that 1) Wannstedt tried to keep him here by not releasing him from his scholarship and 2) he had Palko in front of him and given the state of the o-line Palko had to play behind, Flacco – who moves like a water buffalo in four feet of water – would’ve been an absolute disaster. Flacco was an afterthought during most of his time here at Pitt and most people didn’t even bat an eye when he left.

Comment by Stoosh 08.23.08 @ 9:37 am

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