The spread offense today in college football is a hot commodity, lighting up scoreboards across the nation. Although not obviously evident, the spread offense requires a lot of athletes across the field in order to work to it's full capabilities. At the University of Florida, on particular athlete meshed to perfection with the Gators unique spread system.
A lanky 188 pound receiver out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, in 2006 was a highly sought-after recruit. A highlight reel waiting to happen, Percy Harvin committed to Florida and became a fit for the opposition for three consistent years. With lightning fast speed, excellent hands and shifty footwork, Florida's Percy Harvin became one of the best fits for the spread offense system.
At the University of Florida, Harvin split time at wide receiver and running back. Although he was more productive on the ground, racking up 19 career rushing touchdowns, he still was a threat to take any reception to the house. One of college football's scariest ball carriers and deep threats, Harvin decided to enter the NFL Draft after winning his second National Championship in three seasons.
Now, in Harvin's absence, Florida is aching to find a reasonable replacement. Percy Harvin was so incomparable, in fact, many fans and followers dubbed his receiver and running back spot on the depth chart the "Percy Position."
For a team stacked with speed, a foundation of forty times, one would imagine all the likely candidates to replace Harvin. There's plenty of names sizing up the list, but of all mentioned none match the athleticism of a Percy Harvin. There are several likely to replace Harvin this season, however chances are low that one will be as effective.
When Jared Fayson transferred for Illinois in 2007, his leave of absence wasn't as noteworthy as it might have been now. Fayson, much like Harvin, almost had split time in the backfield and as a slot receiver during his stint in Gainesville. He now dons the navy blue and orange of the Fighting Illini, no longer sporting the royal blue and orange of the Gators.
Deonte Thompson had flashes of brilliance as a freshman last season. With blazing speed and solid hands, Thompson put up solid numbers. Florida fans might remember Thompson's long touchdown reception against the South Carolina Gamecocks, where he shoved off of his defender slightly before catching Tebow's pass for a touchdown.
Thompson was likely to be a replacement for Percy Harvin this season, but struggled to put up numbers in yesterday's game against Charleston Southern. As a sophomore, Thompson still made a few freshman mistakes on the field. He jumped offsides, and although he ran a crisp post route that left his defensive match in the dust, he failed to catch an easy touchdown pass.
Florida's famous kick and punt returner Brandon James replaced Percy Harvin as a slot receiver in the 2008 SEC Championship Game. Harvin suffered an ankle injury a week prior against Florida State, and was unable to play.
James carried the ball three times in the game, and didn't record a reception. Known more for his return ability than his hands, James isn't likely to fill the void.
With the departure of Percy Harvin, and the graduation of Louis Murphy, Florida is left without a main target at the wide receiver position. Full of candidates, there has yet to be a player to step up and become a go-to-guy.
Although the season is only a few days young, the Gators must find a replacement for Percy Harvin if they want the same offensive fireworks as they had last season. Charleston Southern isn't on the schedule every Saturday.