Michigan State linebacker Noah Harvey became devastated when former Spartan Joe Bachie was declared ineligible by the Big Ten last season after testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance.
However, it was his opportunity to become a starter on defense, which wasn't something he wanted to pass up.
"It was very unfortunate what happened to Joe … but our coaches always would say when you get an opportunity, you've got to take it," said Harvey. "I had my opportunity, I finally got it, and I went full stride with it."
Without Bachie, he started the final five games of the year, finishing with 42 tackles (five for a loss), three sacks, and a forced fumble.
Harvey's debut was even more impressive, albeit disappointing because of a 37-34 loss to Illinois; the redshirt junior tallied nine tackles, 2.5 for a loss, two pass break-ups, and 1.5 sacks.
In a short span, Harvey went from backup to starter and a productive one at that.
"I was playing next to guys that they had to count on me, so I performed to my ability. I'm lucky enough to get that game experience. Now coming into this season, I'm able to have a little bit of that, and I can kind of help lead guys that haven't had that much game experience into this season," Harvey said.
After losing seven starters, Michigan State starts from scratch defensively – among the linebackers, without Bachie and two-year starter Tyriq Thompson; senior Antjuan Simmons and Harvey have the most on-field experience within their position group.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound linebacker couldn't say much about new schemes Mel Tucker, defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton, and linebackers coach Ross Els may have implemented but eluded to his position remaining the same.
"You've got to be physical; you've got to be smart, you've got to be able to lead the defense, you've got to be able to talk, communicate to the guys in front of you, and the guys behind you," said Harvey. "There's really not much that's different."
Harvey is familiar with all three positions, having received snaps at weak-side, strong-side, and the middle linebacker spot.
"I'm going to play wherever the coaches put me," Harvey told reporters last week. "They set a standard – we play fast, we play physical, we play smart, and wherever Coach Hazelton puts me, I'm going to do my job there."
Yet, with kickoff days away, Harvey wasn't able to say where he received most of his reps during practice; he simply laughed and said, "no."
"We're bouncing around everywhere. What comes on Saturday (Oct. 24), you guys will see," said Harvey.
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