Illini Legends, Lists and Lore | Dec. 2, 2018

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore | Dec. 2, 2018

When his college eligibility ran out following the 2001 Illini football season, only three names preceded Rausell "Rocky" Harvey's on Illinois' career rushing list: Robert Holcombe, Thomas Rooks and Jim Grabowski.

But what historians sometimes forget is that No. 23 contributed a lot more to the Illini attack than just rushing the football. In addition to the 2,711 yards he gained as a runner, Harvey also accounted for 1,598 yards as an Illini receiver (808 yards), kickoff returner (738) and punt returner (52).

A highly decorated player from Chicago's Dunbar High School, Harvey saw almost immediate success as a freshman member of Ron Turner's 1998 Illini team. Harvey gained 215 yards against Middle Tennessee State in only his second collegiate game.

Nine times Harvey had single-play efforts of 40 or more yards. Altogether, he had 25 single plays that went 20 or more yards.

Perhaps Harvey's most memorable plays came against Michigan in 1999. At the Big House, two minutes after a dramatic 59-yard receiving touchdown to put Illinois ahead, he darted through U-M's defense for a game-clinching 54-yard TD gallop.

After graduating from Illinois in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in speech communication, Harvey earned a Master's degree in psychology from the University of Phoenix (2009) and an MBA from Northcentral University (2014).

Career-wise, Harvey has served a Director of Enrollment Services at Martin University and as a therapist for Capitol City Family and Education Services in Indianapolis. He currently handles child abuse cases for Child Advocates in Indianapolis.

Today, as he celebrates his 39th birthday, here are Harvey's top performances:Date OpponentSept. 12, 1998 vs. Middle TennesseeHarvey: 215 rushing yards, three TDsOct. 30, 1999 vs. Penn StateHarvey: 145 rushing yards, one TDOct. 3, 1998 at NorthwesternHarvey: 132 rushing yards, one TDSept. 11, 1999 at San Diego StateHarvey: 124 rushing yards on 15 carriesDec. 30, 1999 vs. VirginiaHarvey: 122 rushing yards, two TDsSept. 2, 2000 vs. Middle TennesseeHarvey: 112 rushing yards, one TDOct. 23, 1999 at MichiganHarvey: 106 rushing yards, one TDOct. 14, 2000 vs. IowaHarvey: 104 rushing yards on 14 carries

Illini Birthdays

Today: Michael Martin, football (25)

Monday: Matt Robinson, football (19)

Tuesday: Brian Cook, basketball (38)

Wednesday: Bruce Shuman, tennis coach (68)

Thursday: Chris Basak, baseball (40)

Friday: Carlos Sandy, football (19)

Saturday: Michael Feagles, golf (21)

By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore (Third Edition now available in stores). Get more Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter@B1GLLL. His website is www.SportsLLL.com.

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