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Largo Leader
Two Largo football stars make college commitments
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Photo by JIM LAYFIELD
Brynn Harvey makes a scoring run against Cape Coral. He set the county’s single season rushing record this season with 2,581 yards.
LARGO – Largo High School running back Brynn Harvey disappointed at least one Iowa politician. But his teammate Leonard Johnson made some Iowa residents happy.

The two Largo Packers stars formally announced last week where they would be attending college this fall as National Signing Day arrived Feb. 9. It’s the first day prospective college athletes can sign a letter of intent to attend the college of their choice.

Harvey, who set the Pinellas County single-season rushing record this past season with 2,581 yards as the Packers advanced to the Class 5A state semifinals this past fall, was a good example of how crazy college football recruiting has become.

During the football season, it was not uncommon for Harvey to receive mail at school. Virtually after every practice Harvey left with his hands full of mail, most from colleges. But Harvey occasionally received fan mail. Sometimes, the fan mail comes from people he never met from towns far away he never heard of.

In his hands one particular Monday was a freshly opened letter from Tom Hoekstrae, the mayor of Richland, Iowa. In the letter, handwritten with pencil on two sheets of yellow legal pad paper, Hoekstrae praised Harvey for having such a wonderful season and congratulated him on the Packers success

And would Harvey please keep an open mind about joining some other players from Florida on the Iowa Hawkeyes’ roster?

Instead, Harvey stuck with a Florida school, the University of Central Florida.

Harvey had a few schools as finalists, one of which was one of the top college teams in the country, Arizona State. But the allure of playing for the Sun Devils faded when Arizona State’s interest in Harvey bounced up and down like winter temperatures in Florida.

“Interest from them was on and off,” Harvey said. But the consistency of which UCF pursued Harvey impressed him.

“They wanted me,” Harvey said.

With the Golden Knights, Harvey also saw an opportunity to play right away. UCF’s star running back Kevin Smith, who led the nation with 2,567 yards, decided to turn pro and entered this spring’s NFL draft.

“They’ll need to find a running back,” Harvey joked.

But staying near home was also an important factor with Harvey.

“This way my family will get to see me play,” Harvey said.

Harvey’s teammate, Leonard Johnson, who was the Packers star quarterback, decided to go to Iowa State. A chance at a lot of playing time was important to Johnson too, but, like with Harvey, so too was how Johnson was treated by the Iowa State staff.

“It was the family support,” Johnson said. “They treated me like family. I liked the family atmosphere there.”

Johnson chose Iowa State over South Florida, Mississippi and Troy. Johnson will be a cornerback but will get an opportunity to return kickoffs and punts which he is looking forward to. Johnson will major in education and has high goals for life after football.

“I want to be a college football coach,” Johnson said.
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Phone: (727) 397-5563
Fax: (727) 397-5900
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