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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Meyer sees electric Harvin as playmaker
By IAN FISHER
Published September 3, 2006
GAINESVILLE - After some of the cuts freshman Percy Harvin made Saturday during Florida's 34-7 victory against Southern Miss, teammates already are jokingly comparing him to a certain Heisman Trophy winner.
"We've already been teasing him, calling him Reggie Bush," said fellow receiver Dallas Baker, comparing Harvin to the running back from Southern California. "He made a move in the fourth quarter, and I was like, 'This young man isn't playing like a freshman.' "
Harvin, 5 feet 11 and 180 pounds, rushed for a team-high 58 yards and caught three passes for 33 yards in his college debut.
He also became the first freshman receiver to start a season opener for the Gators.
Harvin, from Virginia Beach, had no idea he was going to start.
"All week, when we were going through our walk-through, it's been the regular personnel, then come game time, (coach Urban Meyer) said 'Eagle,' and that's my little package," Harvin said. "He called it, so I just ran out there."
Harvin admitted he was nervous, and it showed. Harvin stopped running his route early, and the play resulted in quarterback Chris Leak passing the ball to where Harvin should have been, landing in the arms of Southern Miss' Brandon Sumrall at the Florida 28-yard line. Southern Miss scored its only points on the ensuing drive.
"He's just got to come in and continue his route. As he gets experience, he's going to learn," said Leak, the senior. "That's a normal freshman mistake."
After feeding the ball to Harvin on both passes and runs, Meyer said he may even use him at quarterback in the future.
Harvin knew nothing about that and has never taken any snaps as the quarterback in practice.
"One thing we'll never do in this program is have a playmaker and not let him touch that ball," Meyer said. "There are ways to do it."
In the second quarter, Leak ran right and Harvin took a reverse 23 yards to the Southern Miss 4. It was a play Harvin wanted back.
"I should've scored on that," he said. "I was looking upfield; I really wasn't looking to the side, so I was hoping to get that play back."
Regardless, Harvin's teammates saw all they needed to draw a conclusion on Harvin's potential.
"The way he was playing, it's like he could play any position, really," Baker said. "That's just going to push the older guys to work even harder, because with a guy like that behind you, you don't want to make any mistakes or you might be standing on the sideline watching him catch all the balls."