Spikes Stays!... Harvin Leaves
Gator star receiver/runner Percy Harvin is taking his speed, elusiveness and durability concerns to the NFL. The junior playmaker saying Thursday he is leaving school early to turn pro, but Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes will return for his senior season.
Both players announcing their intentions hours before the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft. Even without Harvin, the Gators likely will be the preseason favorite to win a third national championship in four years. Harvin led the team in receiving and was second in rushing. He caught 40 passes for 644 yards and seven touchdowns, and ran for 660 yards and 10 scores.
He missed five games in three years because of injury and was limited in several more, an issue that could keep him from being a top 10 pick in April. He scored at least once in 15 consecutive games -- the longest streak in the nation.
Harvin finished his career with 133 receptions for 1,929 yards and 13 touchdowns, and 194 carries for 1,852 yards and 19 scores. He averaged 9.5 yards per carry and 11.6 yards every time he touched the ball.
With Spikes returning, the Gators will have their entire starting defense intact for the 2009 season. A 6-3, 245-pound junior, Spikes led Florida with 93 tackles this season. The team captain also had eight sacks and four interceptions, prompting coaches and teammates to call him the heart and soul of the defense.
Although Spikes said last week he wanted to use NFL money to try to get a new trial for his incarcerated brother, he also said his return could be linked to quarterback Tim Tebow's decision. Tebow announced Sunday he would stay in school in hopes of leading the Gators to an undefeated season and another national title.
"It was a tough decision for me and my family," Spikes says "I just felt like it was the right choice to come back. I love the coaching staff and my teammates and I look forward to playing another year in front of the best fans in America."