Forget Tebow, Gators Already Pushing Harvin For '08 Heisman Trophy

The ninth-ranked Gators have already started the Harvin for Heisman campaign

Dec. 29, 2007

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Florida quarterback Tim Tebow already has picked out his 2008 Heisman Trophy front-runner: teammate Percy Harvin.

Tebow, who now has a vote after winning college football's most prestigious award three weeks ago, would have voted for Harvin this year.

"He's one of the most dynamic players in the country," Tebow said. "Percy just brings an element that not many people have."

With Tebow leading the charge, the ninth-ranked Gators have already started the Harvin for Heisman campaign. They believe the speedy and versatile receiver - along with Tebow, of course - should be a preseason favorite for the award in 2008.

"I really think those two kids will be Heisman candidates," coach Urban Meyer said as his team prepares to face Michigan in the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday. "That's how much respect I have for (Harvin) as a player. If we just keep him healthy and keep him grinding."

Keeping Harvin healthy is key.

The 5-foot-11, 187-pound Virginia native hasn't played every game in either of his two years at Florida. He missed considerable time in 2006 after injuring his ankle against Tennessee and sat out two games this season because of migraine headaches.

He's missed practice because of a hip pointer, tendinitis in his Achilles' tendon and tendinitis in his knee. And he was once taken off the field on a backboard after his head slammed into a defender's knee.

"Like I tell anybody, he can win the Heisman next year if he stays healthy and does some of things I know he can do," receiver Andre Caldwell said. "He's just that talented. I think big things are going to happen for him next year."

Despite his injuries, Harvin is second on the team in rushing and receiving. He has 70 carries for 599 yards and five touchdowns, and 50 receptions for 781 yards and three scores. He is averaging 11.5 yards every time he touches the ball.



His last two games have been two of his best.

He ran 11 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns against Vanderbilt in early November and caught nine passes for 110 yards, becoming the first player in school history to have 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game.

He missed the next two games because of the migraines, but returned in a big way against rival Florida State. He ran 16 times for 157 yards and a touchdown and had five receptions for 67 yards.

"I know one thing, what you saw in the last half of the season, when he did play, he had about 200 yards a game," Meyer said.

Meyer already has talked to Harvin about his Heisman chances, comparing Florida's situation to the one at Southern California a few years ago. Quarterback Matt Leinart won the Heisman in 2004, returned to school the next year and watched teammate Reggie Bush pick up the heavy bronze statue in New York City.

Maybe the same thing could happen in Gainesville.

"It's kind of looking that way," Harvin said. "With Tim having all the success, coach pulled us both to the side and said he's trying to do all the things USC did with all the championships and the Heisman. Me and Tim, we've got great respect for each other. I was glad for him to win it and we're going to see what I can do next year."

One thing that could favor Harvin is Meyer's belief that Emmanuel Moody and Mon Williams, two highly touted running backs who couldn't play this fall, will carry part of Tebow's rushing load in '08.

Tebow became the first player in major college football history with at least 20 touchdowns rushing and at least 20 passing in the same season.

"I don't think Tim will have those ridiculous numbers because I'm hoping to get a little more production out of our backfield," Meyer said. "I just don't think he can take three years of that, just pounding, so we've got to be smart with him."

Harvin has set a goal, too - one that could lead to the Heisman.

"I've definitely got to stay healthy," he said. "It's hard to stay healthy when it's a contact sport. But I'm going to do my best and work hard and see what happens. I'm not going to let (the Heisman hype) get to me. If it comes to me, it does. If it doesn't, I'm just going to work hard and help my team get back to the top."