SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
9/12/2006 01:21:00 PM
Florida's Freshman Sensation
In his first two games, Florida's Percy Harvin has compiled 132 yards receiving and a touchdown as well as 69 yards rushing.
Doug Benc/Getty Images
The first two weeks of the season have seen no shortage of highly touted true freshmen making their mark. Arkansas QB Mitch Mustain and Georgia QB Matthew Stafford are already starters. Ohio State RB Chris Wells and Clemson RB C.J. Spiller have both gotten significant carries. None, however, have come in and instantly electrified their team quite like Florida receiver Percy Harvin.
On Signing Day last February, Florida coach Urban Meyer said of Harvin: "You flip on the tape and watch three plays and go on to the next one thinking he's as good of a football player and athlete as there is in America." Meyer, of course, was talking in terms of high-school players, but anyone who's seen the highlights from Harvin's performances against Southern Miss and UCF knows there's a good chance we'll soon be saying the same thing about him in college.
Don't believe me? Check him out for yourself here or here. As you'll quickly see, Harvin is that rare player whose speed and explosiveness are on a whole other level. "Sizzle," as they call it. Think of the first time you saw Ted Ginn Jr. blow past a defender or Reggie Bush cut back in traffic -- that's the same type of flare Harvin brings to the table. And much like those two, Florida is already working to get him the ball as many different ways as possible -- option pitches, shovel passes, reverses and, of course, downfield passes. Against Southern Miss, he ran four times for 58 yards while catching three passes for 33. Against UCF, he caught four passes for 99 yards.
"He has a little extra something to him," said Gators safety Tony Joiner. "One of the first things he did that caught my attention was that he caught a slant pass in practice and almost took it to the house. He has unbelievable speed."
Florida is going to need every bit of Harvin's speed Saturday when it visits Tennessee. Highlighted by the steady play of senior QB Chris Leak, the Gators' offense, at least so far, appears to be showing the same kind of dramatic, second-year improvement as Meyer's teams at Bowling Green and Utah. Against the Golden Knights last Saturday, Florida posted its highest offensive output (637 yards) since Steve Spurrier's last season in 2001. It's clear the coaches have tailored the offense to Leak's strengths (i.e. no running), and in fact the QB helps formulate the gameplan each week during a Thursday meeting with the staff.
However, Florida's running game -- a source of much consternation since Meyer's arrival -- remains a huge concern. While the coach is finally directing some praise at tailbacks DeShawn Wynn and Kestahn Moore, the Gators' leading rushers in the first two games were Harvin and backup QB Tim Tebow. It also remains to be seen how well UF's inexperienced offensive line can protect Leak against a legit SEC defense, which was a major problem last season. The Tennessee game will be a huge measuring stick for how much progress Meyer's offense has truly made in Year Two. If the Gators do have success, here's guessing Harvin will play a major role in it.
Does Florida pay Sports Illustrated for all the hype it has gotten over the season. Oh wait, it's FLORIDA and they are the best team in the universe with the best players from across the galaxy! Who will they blame this year when they melt under the hype and come back down to "earth?" Probably Chris Leak...poor guy. Too bad you don't have Spurrier to throw his visor when you guys lose at least 3 games again this season!!
1st anonymous writer must be a Notre Dame fan and getting scared that we'll see him in the Fiesta Bowl to show Brady Quinn who his daddy is!!! Blame that on Tyrone Willingham that we beat you and took your precious TV time away with a freshman!!!
I am sorry (Insert Florida Rival Team Here) is not getting the attention that you feel that they deserve, but come on, Percy Harvin is definitely a story this year. The guy has shown flashes in only two games that many Seniors never achieve. Mandell is just pointing something out that warrants attention. Harvin will wind up getting a ton of hype in the next few years, let's just hope it is for the right reasons; and so far that is not in question.
It's really nice to have the feeling that our program is going in the right direction (on AND off the field). The irate person asking whether Florida pays SI to publish positive stories about Florida must be an FSU fan...understandable how he/she is so irate with jealousy.
Your an idiot. Florida has not gotten that kind of hype at all this year. And why did you post that? Read the article, it talks about an electrying freshman who is making an impact on the team. The only team i constantly hear being hyped is The always Overrated Notre Dame who will lose to the Wolverines. Your probably a Vols fan.
Posted: 4:27 PM by Mike - on behalf of the GATOR NATION
Doesn't the first guy at least have the guts to put a name next to your trash talk? Here is guessing your team does not win many games against the ORANGE AND BLUE
ok florida is supposed to win the national championship every year. they always have big shot recruits but until they actually when an sec championship im not buying them. hell, they havent even gone to an sec championship let alone won 10 game since like 2001 or 2000. the only thing they'll ever be good at is beating georgia. and at this point that doesnt even give them much credibility because georgia hands them the game on a silver platter every year. (yes i do love the dawgs, but numbers dont lie and the numbers show that the gators are a solid team thats never really been able to put it together since darth visor left)
Impressive! That boy is a BULLETT! and Meyer is using all his creativity to put that speed into good use.
Looks like It will be a challenge for my Bayou Bengals, but watching a star in the making like that kid, against a stout defense like ours, in a game with SEC and hopefully nat´l championship implications is what makes College Football so special. Thanks for the tip,.... we'll stay tuned!
as a georgia fan i would like to give the gators credit for keeping a discplined team off the field and playing some insanley good mind games on my poor bulldogs. however, until they win 10+ games (which will be a rough task with the brutal schedule they play) the dawgs (with a much easier and balanced out schedule) will probably just beat fat phi again and sneak right back into the georgia dome. but on the subject of percy harvins, yeah he looks great but lets see how he does this coming week against ut and the following ones against au lsu uga fsu and maybe even darth visor
Harvin looks to be pretty good. But c'mon, he doesn't belong in the same breath as Reggie Bush. Those highlights showed Harvin is fast...wow, 100's of other collegians can claim that. When he does more and does it against good teams, then let's talk. By the way, when was the last time Florida won the SEC? Or even got to the title game? Florida won't even win the East this year, mark it down.
I think the first poser, I mean poster is dead on. Now if he can just get the rest of the bandwagon riding, weak scheduling other teams to bow down to a team that plays in a conference with more than 1 or 2 contenders, the Mighty Gator Nation would be much obliged. Harvin is a stud on a team that may lose 2 or 3 games, but still make West Virginia tuck it's tail and run back to the East (Big East my a%*).
Florida will get killed this weekend by the vols and the Tigers are going down by the NOLES! Mandell always hates on the it is no surprise. Wait until Saturday around 11:30pm his Blog will look a little different. GO NOLES!!!
I think that first guy was at one of the schools Harvin turned down. All Mandel was trying to say is that in every game you can see that one or two crazy special players. I remember watching Matt Jones at Arkansas, Payton at Tenn, Cadilac at Auburn, etc and knowing that they have the "it". Of course UCF and So Miss aren nothing like UT, Georgia, LSU, FSU, Auburn, but lets just sit back and watch. We'll see if he is that special player soon. I think he is (as long as he doesn't read this hype). If he is reading - think Michael Jordan (and in one year becoming the best jump shooter when others said he was average); you can ALWAYS get better. Always judge yourself against yourself - never be happy where you are. Go Gators! Go Percy Harvin!
True colors willbe shown on Saturday. The Gatorheads will go down and the Noles will be victors once again. The guy looks good but lets wait until he plays a real team not a community college. When he makes game changing plays like Greg Carr then post this.
Ummmmm, sure he's fast, but wasn't he playing against So. Miss & UCF?!?!? Not exactly ND, OSU, or any other top 25 team with linebackers that can run & tackle. Let's get together again after this week and have the same discussion. And, yes, Mandel has been gushing about the Gators more this year, it seems.
There's a reason Pete Carroll wanted Percy Harvin badly...and it's not just so that Florida couldn't have him. Percy was at the top of USC's list for most of last year and it came down to a last minute decision to attend UF. Then PC had to turn his attention to Vidal Hazelton who will catch the media's eye soon enough.
This kid was recruited by Ohio State but chose Florida because of Urban Meyer. Great Talent but who is he playing against? No one of any caliber. If he does the same against some Top 10 teams I will say he is the next Ginn or Bush but until them he has some growing up to do.
I don't care what team your a fan of or what team Florida was playing. Watching that kid break tackles, stutter-step, juke and fly past defenders is amazing and gives me chills when I think about the future of this guy! Wait till he starts throwing passes downfield to Tebow! Can you say Heisman? At least Florida took care of it's easy non-conference games, unlike anonymous' Noles. It took all they had just to go 2-0 against Troy.
It's funny that some readers think you are giving Florida extra hype. I was actually thinking this weekend I have yet to really see anything about the Gators anywhere. I figured it was just because they haven't played a big game yet. It will be nice to see what they really look like this week against the Jekyll & Hyde Vols.
I've watched both Gator games and this Percy guy is the real deal. . He is scary in the open field and Urban does a good job getting him the ball in space. What's even scarier is that Percy is not the best skilled player on the team. I know it's early, but there is something magical about this Gator team that I haven't seen since the ole ball coach was there. The team that looks most worthy on their schedule is LSU. They meet the first weekend in October.
Look I've been to both games this year and seen Percy Harvin in action. The kid is amazing, u guys r saying he's not doing it against real competition, but both of these teams were bowl teams last year and Southern Miss has had a winning season for 17 straight years!!!!! I guarantee u this kid will have a major impact in this upcoming game against UT, however don't expect it to be early in the game it will be late, because he will need time to adjust for 100,000 fans rooting against him, but just like in his 1st game he'll get used to it and then he'll start ballin. Besides the Vols are overrated because they made Cal look silly in the season opener. I bet u Ainge doesn't throw for more than 250 against UF's D. And this one is decided before the start of the 4th quarter. UF 31-Tenn-13!!!!!!
As a Seminole, I hate to admit it, but the Gators have looked good so far. They have done exactly what they should have and blew away two inferior teams. If FSU does not get in gear, UF is going to roll over them in November. However, I won't buy into Harvin until I see him play against Tennessee this weekend. He has put up some good stats, but I am interested to see how he does in the Gator's SEC opener. I guess it depends on which Vol team shows up, the one that destroyed Cal or the one that struggled against AF.
All Stewie said was that this guy was fun to watch, and that in a solid class of true freshman he's already making an impact. Why do people always start crying about how its not their team getting the attention? The man can't even acknowledge that someone has talent without a million rabid fans screaming bloody murder. The films were impressive, and while they may not have been performances against the top defenses in the nation, dont forget that your favorite team probably hasnt played a division 1 team this year either, so shut it. I'm not even a Gator fan...just a sports fan.
Honestly, UF has good skill players. Chris Leak has shown he has the moxie to make clutch plays. Like losing in the swamp to Chris Rix, and instead of trying for a Hail Mary with time running out he tries to run 70 yards against the NOLES D. With no Offensive Line, and a Defense that has gotten 1 sack against Southern Miss and UCF, they honestly think they are top 10 material. The SEC is going to shred them, and I just hope they have a winning record by the time they get to tallahassee. A win over an emasculated UF wont help us get into the national championship.
I saw this kid play in high school in the state semifinals. It's amazing how much influence he has on a game. Every TD was his, through the air and off of interceptions. He made breaking down a tough defense look easy. I'm not at all suprised he's doing well at the college level.
Lol. This story is simply a heads up on a new and exciting player. Not a Beano Cook 4 heismans nonsense. Mandel needs to know that FSU fans hate all national media because FSU does not have a journalism school and they feel because of this that all sports reporters are out to get them. However, after the last 3 years they should be grateful to sports reporters because during the Bobby Bowden post game interview they explain to Bobby what actually happened during the game instead of him telling them.
I'm tired of hearing the Brady Quinn/Charlie Weiss and Notre Dame hype. Five turnovers in one game, not the stats of an offensive juggernaut. As a Michigan fan, it was great to see the Maize and Blue expose Notre Dame's weak pass defense. Now that sportswriters will be off the Brady Quinn bandwagon, how about you guys give a little love to Mike Hart..he had big stats in a big game.
AHHHHH....it feels soooo good. I just wanna thank ALL the sportswriters for their love of Notre Dame. All the butt kissing of Charlie and Quinn...you just got skunked by Michigan. This is what is wrong with the BCS. Hype, Hype, Hype. Preseason polls are a joke. I'm an SEC fan (dawg fan to be exact who has once again received zero preseason respect). And let's all just face reality, it's very, very hard to go undefeated in the SEC. Everyone jumps on the offensive bandwagon cause it's fun, but the SEC has defense. I'd love to see USC, Ohio State, or Louisville hang 50 points on a top SEC team, just wouldn't happen. But they'll be the ones in the National Championship match, because of names like Troy Smith, Booty, Mike Hart, etc. Contrary to popular belief there is national caliber talent below the mason dixon line. But at least Mandel admitted it earlier...he keeps counting Georgia out (every year!) but they just keep reloading.
not once but twice, I can not beleive the review team at the OU/Oregon game, even Dan Fouts , a die hard pac ten guy said on national tv, the call was "ridiculous" not to mention the pass interference call. I guess some conferences will do anything for a win.