by Chris Warner
Whether in football or in life, everyone needs a break. Lonnie Harvey’s may arrive due to a simple, clever idea: to record his pro day workout and post it on YouTube.
In the video, the 346-pound Morgan State defensive lineman displays eye-opening agility, rumbling around the field like a one-man avalanche. Harvey spent some time with PD and continued to spread the word that he should get a serious look this April.
Who’s idea was it to film you on your pro day?
Actually, me and a friend of mine both came up with the idea. His name is Jason Murphy. We said because of the fact that we don’t have that much exposure, this would help the teams that don’t know anything about me (and) make myself stand out as much as possible.
Now, did (Jason) follow you around with the camera and just watch what you were doing, going through your events?
Actually, no, he wasn’t actually there. He plays for the Tennessee Titans. We sat down and came up with a way together to get me some more exposure, and this was the idea that he came up with.
It seems to be working pretty well. Have you gotten some positive reaction from it?
Yes I have. I’ve gotten many positive reactions. As a matter of fact, I was online yesterday, I just Googled myself, and I came across a Colts fan blog site. I was just, you know, reading the blogs about me, and a lot of people were impressed with the way that I moved. Not only that, a few teams contacted my agent about the Youtube video, and a lot of them were pretty impressed with what they saw, being my size and (moving) the way I move. I think it worked out pretty well.
In terms of the results, were those what you expected on your pro day?
I actually expected to run a little faster, and I was hoping that I could do a little more on my bench press, but that was pretty much it. I expected my short shuttle, (20-yard) shuttle drills and the “L” (3-cone) drill.
Are those results posted anywhere? I haven’t been able to find them online, specifically.
No, the numbers aren’t posted anywhere, but as you can see, the (NFL) scout that was in the video (from the Philadelphia Eagles) has the official numbers.
Do you remember how many bench reps you did of 225?
Yes, sir. I did 19 reps before I had a spasm in my shoulder. I was going through it, I just, you know, just was going straight up until I got to 19, and then when I came up on my 20th, it was like, “No.” So, it was a little tough on me.
What would you expect (to do) in that?
Around 25, 26, because that’s what I had done previously. My pro day was on…Thursday, and I’d actually done 25 on Monday, so I expected to do around the same or one over what I did on Monday.
What’s your weight right now, Lonnie?
I am right now at 342.
Have you always been a big guy, or is this something that you’ve worked on in college?
Actually I just got big when I got to college. Coming out of high school, I weighed in at around 345, and then I actually got up to around 365. My weight was a major issue for me. I had a hard time getting it down and dieting and everything like that. I actually played my senior year around 365, 366, so around there. But right now I’m down to around 342. I’ve just been, you know, working really hard and making every sacrifice necessary to get to this point.
What does it take to lose weight like that?
Oh, discipline, determination. I looked at it as: this is the opportunity of a lifetime, this is the biggest job interview of a lifetime, to be able to showcase the best that I can do. So I said, at all costs, if I had to not eat a whole lot during the day – not “a whole lot,” but just eat three meals a day, I ate two meals. You know, my breakfast was a bowl of oatmeal and for lunch at 4:30 was either a can of tuna fish or a chicken breast, and that will be it for the rest of the day, and I just drink water. So, I mean, it was a very strict, disciplined diet. But the motivation for me was to take care of my mom and take care of my dad, and my brother, and get them – just to be able to take care of them, because they’ve invested so much in me throughout the years, and I just want to be able to give that back to them.
And are you back on a more normal diet now? Do you think it’s something that you can maintain?
Actually, sir, I have a goal to be around 325, 330, so I’m going to try to (keep) this rigorous regimen up until I get to around that weight and then maintain it. But yeah, it’s been very tough.
Your schedule must have changed a lot since the YouTube video came about. Have you been pretty busy talking to teams?
The only teams I’ve spoken with since I posted my video were the Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens. I have a workout with Carolina (Friday), and I meet with the Baltimore Ravens on the 30th for a private workout. But that’s all…
Speaking of Baltimore, Morgan State is there, and that’s where you’re from. Did you look at schools in other areas?
As far as going to college?
Yes, I actually did. I was actually a late qualifier, as far as my SAT scores coming out of high school. I had scholarship offers from Temple, Marshall, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech (and many others)…I can’t tell you all the teams off the top of my head, but yeah, I had the opportunity to go to schools elsewhere, I just was a late qualifier, SAT-score-wise.
So how does that work? Do you apply to a certain school and then they give you some extra time to make up for it?
Well, what actually happened was, because I qualified late, I still had a scholarship available on the table from a Division 1-A school at the time, and that was Temple University. I signed the scholarship – my letter of intent – on national signing day. I don’t know how, but some strange way…the end of June, before I was scheduled to go up to Temple University, I got a phone call telling me that I wasn’t accepted into the school because I didn’t score a 1250 or better on the SAT. So I wasn’t admitted into the school. It was in the end of June, and I didn’t have a school to go to, and, you know, it was about time to get ready for the football season. I called a few coaches from the schools that had interest in me, and the advice that was given to me from one school was to go to Hargrave Military Academy. Now, being young and immature (in this) situation, and being ignorant of what was going on, I chose to just take the route of going to Morgan State University, because it was offering me a full ride. They said they would take care of everything for me. Because that was on the table for me, that right away I could be a big fish in a small pond and I could make things happen out there, I said, “You know what? I’ll just take this route. Football is football. If they’re good, you know, they’ll find me.” So I took that route and ended up playing for Morgan State.
And how do you feel about that now, looking back on it?
How do I feel? You know what, I’ll say this…I feel like I’ve been blessed to be in a situation where I’ve seen what it’s like, the differences between being in a big-school environment, taking trips to Temple and Maryland and Penn State and those things, and going to a school (like) Morgan State that obviously doesn’t have all the funding and facilities and the community support that you would expect going to a university. But it has taught me, you know, in all situations, be humble. Not only that, that you have to fight for everything that you want, because if you really want it, it’s not going to be given to you. You have to earn it, just like respect. It also made me aware of the fact that everybody isn’t going to be looked at the same, no matter how great of a talent you are. If you’re a good talent but you go to a small school, teams may overlook the fact that you’re still a great talent, or…they may look at, okay, the level of competition wasn’t that great, so it kind of makes it a little harder, but the more harder the situation is, I feel like, then when (I) get there, the more I can appreciate reaching my goal.
You know, taking a look back where I came from, it’s the story that a lot of people from where I came from can say they never had, or never heard of. Coming from the inner city, going to college here in the city and then, you know, possibly making it on to the next level, it’s one of those stories that hasn’t been written yet. I just really feel like my story is big, to be in this position. Although I didn’t go to the big school that I aspired to go (to) when I was in (high school), my story can be hope for the youth in my community to say, “It can be done. Even if I don’t have the grades to get into a big school, if I stick with it and try hard and give it my best, I can make it.” I feel like I wouldn’t have that same story if I went to a big school.
This can be a powerful, powerful story in a child’s life, to say that, “I don’t have to succumb to this drug dealing, and this gang and thug life around me. I can take another route, and I can make it. I can make it. I can be somebody.” And I feel like that’s so important to me, just coming up and having everything, when I really take a look back at the (big) picture. Because if my life story can change one person’s life, you know, I feel like I’ve done something. I really do. So, it’s special to me, coming from Morgan State.
I think that’s great, Lonnie. I really appreciate your time today, and I wish you a lot of luck.