One of the most noteworthy things about the currently signed Iowa Barnstormers roster is the amount of returning players to the team for the 2020 season.
Raheem Harvey is no exception.
Raheem Harvey is back and he wants some more ice
Like the others, and despite a new head coach leading the way, Harvey has championship aspirations.
“That’s the ultimate goal – to win a ring,” Harvey said. “But, I want more than that. I want to put myself in a position to move up to the next level, and be even more successful.”
Harvey is one of potentially a dozen or so players returning to the Barnstormers from their 2019 roster. It won’t be official until the team makes its training camp roster official in February, so it is all approximate.
However, it is one of the biggest reasons he chose to come back.
The Florida native appreciates the continuity of staying with the same team and growing, as well as the front office in Des Moines.
“I know all of the people in the front office and the faces in town,” Harvey said. “I don’t want to be jumping around from team to team, I’d rather go somewhere that I am already familiar with.”
That’s something that will change a bit more, as the rosters the past few years have seen major turnover from one year to the next.
It’s a different philosophy this season.
“It helps a lot because, you don’t want to keep a bunch of different guys coming in and out of the door,” Harvey said. “It helps out to bring a ton of guys back that already have some chemistry with each other. It’s better that way than trying to get different parts and pieces trying to gel together, in my opinion.”
One of the first players to re-sign with Iowa over the off-season was a guy who is going to be on the opposite side of the field from Harvey in Connor Hollenbeck.
Harvey was thrilled, to say the least, to hear about that.
“It’s always cool playing with [Hollenbeck],” Harvey said. “He’s a big guy. He’s a distraction if you have him lined up on the other side of the ball. We all compliment each other and it’s going to be great to be on the field with him [and other recievers]. We don’t compete with each other, we’re out there hoping we’re all going for the same goal.”
That’s different than other teams Harvey has been on.
Before he came to Iowa, he was with the Cedar Rapids franchise – named the Titans at the time.
“It’s different than other teams,” Harvey said. “Everyone is pretty in it for each other. Everyone wants to sit at the table and eat with each other.”
The new head coach, Ameer Ismail, comes to Des Moines for his first season with the Barnstormers.
Ismail was in the National Arena League where he won a Coach of the Year award with the Massachusetts Pirates in his first year there. It also included a birth in the playoffs.
Ismail was part of what Hollenbeck to sign so quickly.
“He’s a pretty cool guy,” Harvey said. “I think he’s got good intentions and big [aspirations].”
Harvey had 11.0 yards per catch last season as well as three touchdowns with Iowa.
There’s a reason Ismail has big plans for Harvey.
“I expect Raheem to come in with a positive chip on his shoulder and something to prove,” Ismail said. “As a player he has been very productive with his limited opportunities and I look for him to play a bigger role this year. He’s a great special team’s player and a very willing and capable blocker which is a tremendous asset. He’s a team player that I look forward to coaching.”
The 2020 Barnstormers will have a new quarterback in Caleb Holbrook as well as a plethora of formerly Ismail-coached players that will try to fit in with the experienced Des Moines crew.
Regardless of the challenges, advantages, or question marks about 2020, one goal outweighs all of it.
“I want to get back to getting me another ring so I can ice out my fingers,” Harvey said.