Former Florida Gators’ Star Percy Harvin Wins Super Bowl with Seattle Seahawks

Percy Harvin didn’t return kickoffs during his time with the Florida Gators. The do-everything weapon was reserved to doing almost everything but returning kicks. Then Harvin went to the NFL.

Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks

In four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Harvin returned four kickoffs for touchdowns and twice led the league in kickoff return average. His 2012 average of 35.9 yards per return ranks third all-time; not in team history, in NFL history.

Traded to the Seattle Seahawks before the start of the 2013 season, big things were expected from the dynamic Harvin, but we would see him only touch the ball twice during the regular season. Of course, one of those touches was a 58-yard kickoff return. Even hobbled, Harvin is better than most at the football.

The playoffs came and Harvin was healthy once again, giving the Seahawks a threat barely seen during the regular season. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t return a kick during Seattle’s first game against the New Orleans Saints and would be held out of the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers due to a concussion.

Then came the Super Bowl and a ready-to-go playmaker. Harvin only caught one pass and ran the ball just twice, but oh that kick return. Up 22-0 over the Denver Broncos, the Seahawks hoped to put more points on the board during their first drive of the second half. They wouldn’t have to wait long as Harvin would go 87 yards for the score. It was the fifth touchdown return of his career and by far the biggest of them all.

My obsession with Percy Harvin is no secret. As much talent as there was on the 2006 and 2008 Gators’ national title teams, Harvin was over-the-top special. We may never see such a pure athlete in orange and blue again. There are other names I could mention here that contributed greatly to one or both of those teams, but when Harvin got the ball, you made sure you were watching. Something jaw-dropping was about to happen.

On Sunday night, the oft-injured star made his mark again, this time on football’s biggest stage. Plenty of former Florida players have won the Super Bowl, but last night was Harvin’s moment. Congrats Percy. Go Gators!

The Super Bowl Giveth, The Super Bowl Taketh Away

Tomorrow, the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks will compete in the Super Bowl. Once the game is over, so will be football.

Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks

For some of us, that may be a good thing. The Florida Gators posted a record of 4-8 during the 2013 regular season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won as many games despite having four more chance to add to their victory total. That’s eight combined wins for the teams I consider myself a fan of. Eight total wins and 20 losses. The end of the current football season can’t come soon enough for me.

I will miss it of course. I’m not completely dead inside. I will miss the victories, though few and far between recently. I will miss the anticipation and hope. I will miss those that stuck together in all kinds of weather. But there is plenty I won’t miss.

I won’t miss poor offensive play, and poor is a nice way to put it. I won’t miss injuries. I won’t miss coaching hot seats. I won’t miss the fan 20 years my senior that hates Jeff Driskel with a passion reserved for, well, I can’t really imagine where you find that kind of hate within you. I won’t miss losing two or three times as many games as you win.

Luckily, football never really comes to an end. Mere days after the Super Bowl is National Signing Day–a recruiting fan’s dream date. Following NSD, we gear up for the NFL Draft. During the summer, we talk recruiting and anticipation and hope begins to build again. All along, if you’re so inclined, you can bet on the upcoming season (find the latest odds online with Betfair). The games may end, but football doesn’t.

Tomorrow, the final game of the 2013 season is played. For us Gators, we have Percy Harvin and Andre Caldwell and Jeremy Mincey to cheer for. One team will be wearing orange and blue, even if their quarterback could never beat Florida. We have 60 minutes of game time left. 60 minutes before the offseason truly begins and hope returns.

Ronald Powell the Latest to Declare for 2014 NFL Draft; DE/LB to Leave Florida Early

Ronald Powell has become the latest underclassman to declare his intentions to leave Florida early and enter the 2014 NFL Draft. The hybrid defensive end/linebacker had one season of eligibility remaining.

Ronald Powell, Florida Gators

The top recruit in the nation coming out of high school, much was expected of Powell before he ever stepped foot on campus. He was the second top prospect to sign with the Gators under former head coach Urban Meyer and if his impact were to even be close to that of the first–Percy Harvin–Florida fans were in for a treat.

Powell struggled early, but mostly due to those high expectations. It’s not that he underperformed during his freshman season; it’s that so much more was expected out of him. Will Muschamp’s arrival as the new Florida head coach may have been a good thing for Powell in the long run. While it did take him some time to get used to his role as a “buck” linebacker, Powell started to come on strong during the season half of the 2011 season. Seven of his nine tackles for loss and four of his six sacks came in the final six games of the season.

Powell wouldn’t get a chance to build on his strong end to the 2011 season as his 2012 season was over before it began. He tore his ACL during the Orange & Blue Debut, putting him on the shelf for all of 2012.

When the 2013 season came around, Powell was ready to contribute again. While he was back to full strength, he also greatly benefited by the play of defensive lineman Dominique Easley and fellow buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. The emergence of Fowler allowed Powell to move between buck and more of a traditional linebacker role throughout the season.

Powell played well enough throughout the season that this announcement isn’t much of a surprise, but it’s also widely believed he would benefit greatly from one final year of development. However, after suffering the type of injury he did, it’s understandable that he would leave now and not risk getting hurt at the college level again. Early predictions have Powell falling somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft.

While I wish Powell all the luck in the world, the one thing I would have really wished for him during his time at Florida was more wins. Due to the injury forcing him to miss the 11-2 2012 season, Powell played for the Gators during seasons in which they finished 8-5, 7-6 and 4-8.

Mike Gillislee Caps Off Florida Gators Career With Magical Season

Okay, so I admit using the word “magical” is a little much, but do you expect any less from me? First of all, it’s 6:00 in the morning as I write this. Second, I have a five-month-old child, which is basically the equivalent of having a drunk person that has lost the ability to speak in your house at all times. And finally, we all really do want to believe it was magical.

Mike Gillislee - Florida Gators

Mike Gillislee set lofty goals for himself entering the 2012 college football season–1,500 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns–and while the Florida Gators’ senior didn’t reach those goals, he did hit a milestone we’re all proud of. Gillislee capped off the regular season with 140 yards on the ground and two touchdowns against the Florida State Seminoles to give him 1,104 yards and 10 TDs on the season. Not only did he become the first true Gators’ running back to break the 1,000-yard mark since Ciatrick Fason did in 2004, but he also became the first to carry the ball 200 times or more and rush for 10 or more touchdowns since Fason. Tim Tebow did both and Trey Burton and Percy Harvin found the end zone 10 or more times, but Gillislee is the first running back to do it since Ron Zook patrolled the Gators’ sidelines. And now is as good a time as any to quickly move on from Zook and forget I even mentioned him.

Back to the wonders of the Gators’ rediscovered running game. Gillislee was a bright spot in a season that was about as odd as odd can be. But, as we saw against Florida State, he wasn’t alone. Overall, there weren’t many wow moments to the running game outside of Gillislee, but that’s also because Florida decided early on that he would be the go-to back as long as he remained healthy. Sure, Jeff Driskel has his moments and Burton had a few of those plays that made you believe in his aura once again, but the running game belonged to Gillislee. Although, we did see glimpses of the future and it made us smile.

For Gillislee though, we don’t know what that future is. He has one game remaining as a Florida Gator. It’s easy to imagine him getting plenty of carries against the Louisville Cardinals in the Sugar Bowl. He was the workhorse all season for an 11-1 Gators’ squad and both Will Muschamp and Brent Pease will want him to go out with a bang. Maybe not a Tebow-sized exit, but a good one all the same.

That game will bring an end to a career we hoped for more from, but got all we ever wanted during one final season. Years prior, we imagined a final season during which Gillislee would finally become the number one running back. Saying he didn’t disappoint would be an understatement. When the offensive line stepped up its play, Gillislee was great. When they were average, he was above it. When they were down, he was still the shining spot. Yes, he had better games than others and some that were nothing to praise, but we’re looking at the overall picture here.

We congratulate the Florida Gators on their successful 2012 season, but we single out Mike Gillislee. There are many reasons we’re looking forward to the Sugar Bowl, but watching Gillislee one final time is very high on the list.

Coaches Look To Andre Debose To Step Up And Perform In 2012

The Florida Gators coaches are hoping for big things from wide receiver Andre Debose in 2012. In order for him to get there, he’ll need to find consistency to his play and be able to keep himself on the field.

Debose has been labeled a star-in-waiting since before he committed to Florida. He was dubbed the next Percy Harvin, an unfair comparison for anyone but the first Percy Harvin. Debose has had his moments – he’s a great kick returner and a deep threat at wide receiver – but overall, he has yet to live up to the enormous hype put on him when he came to Gainesville. 2012 needs to be a breakout season for not only Debose, but the entire Gators’ offense.

The coaching staff loves what it has in Debose, but wants to see him perform consistently. While he had the occasional big play, he only caught seven balls in eight SEC games. There was a time when Florida’s leading receivers caught seven passes in each conference game, not all of them combined. While the staff may not expect him to do that, they do expect more and they want to be able to rely on him as a go-to receiver.

This is a big season for Debose; one in which he can be one of the stars to lead the Gators’ offense into the future.

Florida Gators Video Of The Day: Percy Harvin Tribute

The Gators Video of the Day (GVOD) features, you guessed it, videos relating to the Florida Gators. They could be Gators athletes or homemade videos made by fans like ourselves. If you have any suggestions for GVOD, email me at evandagator@gmail.com or TBG at onegameback@gmail.com. We will try our best to live up to the “of the day” part of the title.

After two-straight merely mediocre seasons, it’s safe to say the Gators could use a few key players from the Urban Meyer era. One of those players, Percy Harvin, was likely a once-in-a-generation athlete. Because we will likely never see another player in orange and blue resembling Harvin’s blazing speed, pure athleticism, constant motor and incredible versatility, let’s enjoy some memories of Percy’s great career.

Harvin, who was ranked as the top player in the 2006 recruiting cycle, lived up to his No. 1 status well. He left the team for the NFL Draft after a stellar junior season in which Harvin and the other Gators completed the second of their two national championships during the span (2006-2008).

What’s your best Percy Harvin memory? What should he be remembered for? If any, which recent Gators players resemble him the most?

As If You Need More Reasons To Dislike Former Florida Gators Head Coach Urban Meyer

Yesterday brought us this – an article by Matt Hayes of the Sporting News exposing the real Florida Gators under former head coach Urban Meyer. For some, it was shocking. For most, it was on par with many of the rumors we’ve heard over the last few years. For all, it put another item (or two, or three) under “Cons” on the list of our thoughts about Meyer.

I’m not a Meyer supporter – although some would paint me as such – I just choose to remember certain things. That selective memory is because of a desire to be happy for certain things that occurred while not wasting the time to be upset about other things that can’t be changed. If the article by Hayes is true and former Florida defensive back Bryan Thomas is telling us what really happened under Meyer, so be it. It doesn’t make me proud as a fan by any means, but I’m also much more interested in discussing Will Muschamp and season two under the man we currently refer to as the head coach.

What I do choose to remember and bask in when it comes to Meyer are the two national championships and the athletes we had a chance to witness – Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes to name a few. I don’t know if there was preferential treatment for those three and the other Gators stars during Meyer’s tenure, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was. That’s not an admission that I believe it’s right, it’s just a statement that, again, those rumors have been present well before Monday when the article was posted.

What the article does provide is justification – justification to those Florida fans that no longer consider Meyer a friend. Gators fans are a passionate bunch and among that passion will be certain feelings for not only Meyer, but also Steve Spurrier and any other coach or player that ever spent a day in The Swamp. What they choose to celebrate or condemn is their choice and they should be proud of whatever stance they take. My stance just happens to be one of the now and not the past.

That doesn’t mean I believe the arrests are justified in any way and it doesn’t mean I will go home today and dust off my Urban Meyer shrine. It simply means I don’t treat Monday as a groundbreaking day in the history of the Florida Gators football program. It keeps my feelings right about where they were when Meyer was named the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, which is somewhere between “meh” and “sigh.”

Meyer’s tenure will be discussed at length for years to come. It will probably even be summed up by many just as Thomas did when asked to comment for the article:

“As far as coaching, there’s no one else like (Meyer); he’s a great coach. He gets players to do things you never thought you could do. But he’s a bad person.” – Bryan Thomas, Former Florida Gators Defensive Back

That may be accurate and, if you believe the article and the rumors you’ve surely heard, you probably don’t doubt it. I don’t either, but I am continuing to look forward more than I’m looking back. For your own sanity, I recommend you try to do the same.

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Terron Sanders Works Hard To Make It In The NFL

When the class you‘re a part of also includes Riley Cooper, Jermaine Cunningham, Marcus Gilbert, Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, and some guy named Tim Tebow, it’s easy to get lost among the stars. Terron Sanders was a member of one of the greatest recruiting classes of all time, but much may have not been expected of him.

Rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals, Sanders was hardly untalented, but those names above overshadowed many and injuries didn’t help his case. Sanders played on one game during his senior year of high school and followed that up with a number of injuries – some serious – during his time at Florida. It wasn’t easy going for the defensive tackle, but he was able to appear in 43 games for the Gators and played well when healthy.
NFL scouts may not have thought he played well enough to be drafted though, but that’s not the only path to the top league. Sanders was signed by the Baltimore Ravens and is currently working to make their roster. It will be a tough road for the former Gator, but one he’s taking and not giving up on.

Florida Gators Wide Receivers – 2010 vs. 2011

Part three in a series where One Eyed Willy and I go over the Florida roster differences position by position from this season to last and what to expect in 2011. Check out the quarterbacks here and the running backs here.
2010: Carl Moore – RSR, Justin Williams – RSR, Chris Rainey – RJR, Deonte Thompson – RJR, Frankie Hammond – RSO, Omarius Hines – RSO, Josh Postell – RSO, Stephen Alli – RFR, Andre Debose – RFR, Robert Clark – FR, Quinton Dunbar – FR, Chris Dunkley – FR, Solomon Patton – FR
Preseason Rating: B
Postseason Rating: D
Going into the 2010 season, you would have been excited to see what this unit could do. You had a senior that was a highly-touted recruit coming out of junior college, a junior moving into the role of receiver in hopes of sparking a Percy Harvin-like transformation, two sophomores who would get a chance to really make a difference, and five freshman – all of which brought something special to the game.
13 games later you would have let out a sigh and looked forward to the 2011. We will go ahead and run through the numbers:
12 – The total number of passing touchdowns.
9 – The number caught by wide receivers.
1 – Wide receivers with more than 27 receptions.
38 – The number of receptions Deonte Thompson had to lead the team.
1 – Wide receivers with more than 349 yards on the season.
570 – The numbers of yards Thompson had to lead the team.
10 – Receptions on the season for all-world prospect Andre Debose.
5 – The number of games “slash” player Chris Rainey missed due to…well…you know.
3 – The number of wide receivers that appeared in every game.
51 – The longest reception on the season.
15.0 – Highest yards per catch average on the team by, you guessed it, Thompson.
1 – 100-yard receiving games by wide receivers. It was Thompson.
And just for fun:
40 – The number of receptions Harvin had in 2008 to lead the team. We will give the wide receivers a pass that season though. After all, they were part of a national championship team.
2003 – The last year a Florida team did not have a single pass catcher with at least 40 catches. This team was coached by Ron Zook. What does that tell you?
1989 – The last Florida team to have a leading receiver with less than the 38 receptions Thompson had in 2010. This was the last team before Steve Spurrier arrived. What does that tell you?
It all tells you 2010 was not kind to the Gators wide receivers. A great deal of it had to do with two things beyond their control: shaky play calling and inconsistent quarterback play. Still, that does not change the fact that from a group of very talented players, no one stepped up. Rainey actually set a pace that, if eligible to play in every game, would have made him the receptions leader. And that is from a player who split his time at running back.
2010 is over and that is a very good thing. This is a program that saw eight-straight seasons with at least one 1,000-yard receiver during Spurrier’s time at the helm. Since that time, there have only been two 900-yard receivers. Despite bringing two national championships to Florida, Urban Meyer never had a single receiver with over 920 yards. That could be attributed to Meyer’s desire to have a large numbers of receivers on the roster, but it also never truly allowed any one to shine. That is not such a bad thing when you are going 13-1. When you are going 8-5, it is a very different story.
2011: Deonte Thompson – RSR, Frankie Hammond – RJR, Omarius Hines – RJR, Stephen Alli – RSO, Andre Debose – RSO, Robert Clark – SO, Quinton Dunbar – SO, Solomon Patton – SO, Ja’Juan Story – FR
Preseason Rating: C
As much as I hate to give another unit a C, I just have to do it. And it is because of the promise of a Charlie Weis offense that I even give them that. There are three reasons:
1. The offense is new to the program.
2. Until we see different with our own eyes, we have to expect the same inconsistent quarterback play.
3. This unit lost three bodies completely, two more to position changes and only gained one – Ja’Juan Story.
Therefore, it is very hard to expect much out of this unit. It all hinges on the first two of those items above. How long will it take for the offense to click? And how will whichever quarterback turns out to be the right one adapt? If a passer can get the ball to the receivers more often and on longer routes, we may no longer be talking about low receptions and yardage numbers. If the Gators can consistently move the ball up and down the field, we may see one wide receiver haul in nine touchdowns, not the entire unit collectively.
There is plenty to hope for when it comes to the wide receivers, but we not seen it yet out of any on the roster. Omarius Hines had flashes, but only totaled six catches over the last five games. Thompson’s best day was against Florida’s weakest opponent – Appalachian State. Debose was rumored to have problems with the playbook and was rarely seen on offense. That cannot happen again in 2011. Thompson is the lone senior and the time is now for Frankie Hammond and Hines to no longer have just “potential.” Debose needs to become a big part of the offense and Quinton Dunbar needs to live up to the hype he generated in the spring.
The talent is there. The performance has yet to be seen. Every single member of this unit needs to step up in 2011.

The EA Sports NCAA Football Collection

Once upon a time, I might have considered myself a “gamer.” That is not as true anymore, but I still purchase one game every year without fail – EA Sports NCAA Football. With the addition of NCAA Football 12 to the family, I now have 20 in the collection all the way back to Bill Walsh College Football. Some will find this to have an incredibly high nerd quotient. Others will believe it to be cool. I am pretty sure it is a little bit of both, but I am fine with that.
A few things you will notice:
1. None of the Sega Genesis ones have cases. I have absolutely no idea where these went over the years. All of them are missing, yet I still have PGA Tour II box and all.

2. 2004, 2005, and 09 all look better with Florida players on the cover. Guss Scott, Chris Leak, and Percy Harvin were the choices.

3. There is both an XBOX and an XBOX 360 version of the 07 game. The XBOX version had spring drills, it was a must buy at the time. I do not know why. I actually also had the PSP version for a day before I discovered the ball carrier glitch. The glitch would occur every time you ran the ball. You were marked down where you were first touched, not where you were tackled. So yes, for a brief period of time I had three versions of the same game. I am completely aware there is something seriously wrong with me.

4. Mrs. TBG has been with me for the last six versions of the game at this point and yet she sticks around. Bless her.

5. I am not the world’s greatest photographer.