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Harvin runs on through sprains and twists

Finally feeling like his old self after an injury, Florida receiver grabs more of the workload.

By IAN FISHER
Published November 12, 2006


GAINESVILLE - Florida receiver Percy Harvin said he was 100 percent for the first time since sustaining a high left ankle sprain Sept. 16 against Tennessee.

But he didn't need to say it, because he showed it.

Harvin caught six passes for 91 yards and rushed for 20 more, totaling a career-high 111 yards.

"Percy Harvin changed the game on offense," coach Urban Meyer said. "Every time we were in a rut, that kid is a dynamic football player. We have to get him the football more."

Down three points in the fourth quarter, the Gators got a 16-yard intentional grounding penalty to drive them back to the South Carolina 29, effectively out of field-goal range.

No problem for Harvin.

Senior quarterback Chris Leak hit the 5-foot-11, 180-pound freshman for a 24-yard gain on a crossing pattern that put the ball on the 5-yard line. The Gators made the ensuing field goal to tie.

But what's really impressive about Harvin is his cutting ability to elude defenders.

On Florida's first touchdown drive, he was going left after making a catch, stopped effortlessly, then turned it up the right side for extra yards and a first down.

"He's just one of those players that has a God-given ability to make plays with his speed and just finding areas on the field," Leak said. "That's the thing you have to do with him - just give him the ball and let him use his God-given ability to make plays."

In the third quarter, Harvin caught another 24-yarder on third and 5 to get the ball to midfield.

"Percy's unbelievable," freshman quarterback Tim Tebow said. "There really aren't many guys playing college football or in the NFL for that matter that can make some of the cuts he does. For a lot of people, that might be some torn ACLs. When you sit back and watch him, you're just like, 'Oh, my God, is this kid for real?' "

Late in the game, Harvin twisted his ankle slightly, but there was no way he was sitting out this game.

"It was tweaked, but we were in crunch time and I couldn't let my teammates down, so I just went to the trainers and told them to strap my shoe a little tighter because I had to keep playing," he said.

But Harvin wasn't perfect. He dropped an apparent touchdown pass in the first quarter, although he was diving. And in the third quarter, he ran across the field in motion when Tebow called for the snap. It hit Harvin in the shoulder, the Gators lost 15 yards and they had to punt.

Tebow took the blame, but Harvin did too for not slowing.

"What a great player he is," Meyer said when asked about Harvin. "What a bad player he was on that play."