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Chuck Landon: 'Thumper' next Marshall man for Steelers?

Apr. 28, 2011 @ 12:26 AM

The Pittsburgh Steelers are familiar with Mario Harvey's name.

I mean, really familiar.

So familiar, in fact, the Steelers even know Harvey's nickname.

That's what the former Marshall star linebacker discovered when he worked out for the Steelers in Pittsburgh on April 6.

"I was walking down a hallway in the Steelers' facilities building," said Harvey, "when Mike Tomlin came out of an office. He walked right up to me and said, 'You must be Thumper.' "

When the NFL Draft is just around the corner and the Steelers' head coach knows you by your nickname. ... well, that is a very good thing.

"It sure is," said Harvey with a big smile. "I was really surprised when he called me Thumper."

It just goes to show how much NFL organizations do their homework.

"Coach Tomlin knew all about Marshall," said Harvey, a 5-foot-11, 257-pound linebacker. "He was asking me about Tron Martinez (Herd sophomore running back). He was aware of him because Tron is from Coach Tomlin's home area (Newport News, Va.)."

The presence of former Marshall standouts Byron Leftwich, quarterback, and Doug Legursky, offensive lineman, on Pittsburgh's roster doesn't hurt the Herd's profile with the Steelers, either.

Harvey is projected as a sixth- or seventh-round choice in the NFL Draft, which begins with first-round selections Thursday night and continues through Saturday.

"Harvey would start out as a backup of course," wrote one Steelers' draft prospectus, "but he could learn under Pittsburgh's great linebacking group.

"He's a hard-nosed, athletic player who would actually be a very good fit for Pittsburgh should they decide to draft him. His height may end up determining what type of linebacker he is at the next level, but he seems good enough to be an outside linebacker if needed.

"Despite a 5-11, 250-pound build, he can run a sub-4.50 40-yard time."

In fact, Harvey ran a 4.46 on Marshall's "Pro Day."

"If nothing else," continued the prospectus, "finding special teams tacklers to take out Josh Cribbs (Cleveland's star kick returner) and others is helpful, even in spite of the rule changes in the off-season."

Playing special teams would be fine with Harvey.

"Anything to get my foot in the door," he said. "I like the Steelers' organization. I think I could fit in there."

The irony is the afore-mentioned Browns also are interested in Harvey.

"One thing that surprises me a bit when I look at seven-round mock drafts for the Browns," wrote a Cleveland draft prospectus, "is that one player seems to consistently be on there.

"That one is Marshall inside linebacker Mario Harvey. Harvey was not invited to the combine, but on his Pro Day he proved to scouts that he is a draftable option. ... as evident by his 40-yard dash time, he can keep up with others.

"Should Cleveland take a shot on him? It couldn't hurt. He's a very aggressive player who goes after the ball-carrier and if size is the only issue teams have with him then that's not a good enough reason to pass."

Harvey deserves a chance.

And it appears "Thumper" is going to get one.

Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2787. Email him at clandon@heralddispatch.com.

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