Do you miss Reggie Bush?
Okay, perhaps I should clarify that question.
Do you miss the collegiate version of Reggie Bush, prior to the alleged NCAA rule violations and butt-model arm candy? The ankle-breaking circus show tailback who often worked night shifts as a wide receiver?
The guy you loved, loved to hate, or loved to watch highlights of and wonder if you’d ever be lucky enough to see someone this talented play college football again in your lifetime?
If so, I’ve got you covered.
The next Reggie Bush is out there.
To find him, you first have to turn your attention away from the West coast and move it further East to the quaint little drinking town of Gainesville, FL.
And if you think I’m about to write Tim Tebow’s name, I assure you I’m not that delusional. Sure, the man can make some precise cuts with a scalpel, but he can’t slice up defenders like Reggie Bush.
He leaves that to Percy Harvin.
Harvin is the most athletic, most versatile, most complete, most talented, and mystifyingly, one of the most unknown players in the country.
Percy is the new Reggie. The only trouble is that American Sports Fan doesn’t know it—yet.
This kind of thing can happen to the best of them.
Homer Simpson had the same problem with Mr. Burns, who couldn’t remember his name no matter how many times he heard it. It pushed poor Homer to the edge, leaving him no choice but to spray paint his name all over the walls inside Burns’ office until he was dragged out by Security.
So before Percy turns to a life of illegal, but hopefully legible, graffiti, I think an introduction is in order.
America, meet Percy Harvin. Percy, America.
Good. Now let’s make sure you’re up to speed.
When I wrote that Harvin was the next Reggie Bush, I meant that he is the next 6’0”, 200-pound WR/RB combo who commands an entire defensive game plan just to stop him.
A guy who was listed as the nation’s number one prep player in 2006 by Rivals.com (Bush was their number two ranked player coming out of high school in 2003).
A guy who, through two seasons, gained more yards from scrimmage on fewer touches than Bush did in his first two seasons.
Reggie got you 7.7 yards per touch. Percy got you 11.3, and did it against tougher defenses.
While he has a penchant for making gamebreaking, nearly impossible plays, his best asset may be his final burst at the point of contact, almost as if he can see the yellow first down line on the field.
During his sophomore season, Harvin broke 100 rushing yards twice, broke the century mark with receiving yards four times, and crossed both barriers in the same game against Vanderbilt.
Not bad for an undersized wideout.
And if there weren’t enough comparisons between Bush and Harvin already, they each watched their high profile quarterbacks accept the Heisman trophy while still having time to win it themselves.
Bush eventually won the award a year later, and you can bet Tim Tebow’s Heisman vote won’t be the only one cast for Percy this winter—assuming he remains healthy.
The main drawback to Harvin’s game has been his penchant for nagging injuries. His impressive 2007 stats don’t even include two blowout Gator victories while he was in the hospital with severe migraine headaches.
Seemingly always banged up, Harvin gave Gator fans heart trouble this spring when he pulled out of practice and had an operation to correct a persistent heel injury.
Fortunately for Orange and Blue faithful, his recovery is ahead of schedule and he should be fine when fall practice begins.
Though if he’s going to become a household name and an early NFL draft pick while engulfed in Tim Tebow’s shadow, he’s going to need 2008 to be his healthiest year.
Tebow’s supernatural legend is only going to grow each week. If it rains hard enough in the Swamp, he may even be forced to walk on water.
But when it comes down to stopping the Gators’ most dynamic player, it will be Percy Harvin’s name on every defensive coordinator’s blackboard in the South.
Percy Harvin’s name echoing out of stadium loudspeakers.
Percy Harvin’s name looping on Sportscenter highlights.
Percy Harvin’s name on various post-season award lists.
Percy Harvin’s name being called in the first round of next year’s NFL draft.
It’s time to start paying attention to the most exciting player in the country. It's time to remember his name.
The spray painting is on the wall.