At first, Fred Harvey didn't like football. Hated it, in fact.
As a fourth grader, he didn't see the point.
"We didn't have no pads on," Harvey said. "It's like the coaches had the pads, and we'd have to be running at them and they'd be knocking us down. It was no fun. It was hard. I was like, I don't want to do that anymore."
As a fifth grader, he gave it one more shot.
Some seven years later, Harvey is a 5-foot-11, 230-pound outside linebacker at White Station High School in Memphis with a bright future.
And Harvey, the News Sentinel's No. 7 prospect in the state, discovered another talent in the process - getting to the quarterback.
As a sophomore, Harvey recorded eight sacks. Last season, he dropped the quarterback 21 times. The difference, he says, was an increased focus on technique.
"After a while, it gets kind of easy," he said, pausing to chuckle. "If you start out going to the outside, they'll start cheating to the outside. When that happens, I just use a swim move on the inside. It gets kind of easy. After a while, I get unpredictable, and they get off balance."
And, often, the quarterback winds up on the ground for lost yards.
"I can't really put into words," Harvey said. "I feel out what the linemen are going to do and learn the right techniques to use."
Since last summer, he's been learning the recruiting process.
Entering his senior season, Harvey has scholarship offers from Alabama, Texas Tech, Middle Tennessee State and Stanford. He's also talked to coaches from Tennessee, Ole Miss, Florida State and plenty of others, although he said he's yet to receive official scholarship offers from UT and the others.
Handling the recruiting process means developing a thick skin at times, as well as a sense of how the process works.
"You're just on their time," he said. "You've got to know what to pick up on and know who's telling you the truth."
Harvey says he's not concerned about committing before his senior season. Football offers some level of escape from the process, and he tries to focus on playing ball instead of trying to cater his game to something college coaches might want to see him do for the purpose of evaluation.
Harvey has no problem waiting to end the process until after his senior season ends. In fact, he hopes to earn an invitation to the U.S. Army All-American Game, which often features prospects announcing their commitments during the TV broadcast.
"If I don't get into the game, then I'll probably commit right after the season, most likely," he said.
Just don't expect Harvey to follow the recent trend of waiting until after National Signing Day to announce his choice.
"I wouldn't want to do something like that," Harvey said. "I want to sign when everybody else signs. I want to know where I'm going and talk to the coaches and see what I need to be learning for when it's time to go to school. I wouldn't want to wait that long. I'd feel like I was missing out on something. It could be the difference between being redshirted and playing as a true freshman."
Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.