There are no statues honoring him outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium yet, but an argument can be made for Percy Harvin as the greatest football player in Florida history.
Harvin was the offensive catalyst for two of UF’s three national title teams. In 2006, Florida does not get to the national title game without Harvin’s combined 167 yards of rushing and receiving and two TDs in UF’s 38-28 SEC championship win over Arkansas. In 2008, the Gators don’t win the BCS title over Oklahoma without Harvin’s 171 yards of offfense and one TD.
Harvin’s greatness at Florida was at times overshadowed by off-field issues and bouts with migraine headaches that occasionally sidelined him. Back living in Gainesville, Harvin discussed his issues with migraines and social anxiety disorder at length with Sports Illustrated reporter Michael McKnight. Florida head coach Dan Mullen, who recruited Harvin to UF as offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer, has invited the 30-year-old Harvin to UF’s football facilities to mentor current players. According to the SI article, Harvin also is back enrolled in classes in Florida to finish his degree in psychology.
“He’s young enough that our players have seen him play; they’ve seen his success in the NFL,” Mullen told SI. “Hey, here’s the standard, I’ve done it and it helped me be successful.”
Could Harvin’s second act at Florida wind up being coaching? Harvin told SI that he’s found new mechanisms to deal with his impulsive behavior. He disputed a Sporting News report in 2012 that he choked UF receivers Billy Gonzales coach to the ground in a practice during his playing days.
“First of all, he’s a grown man,” Harvin told SI. “Like he’s gonna let a kid choke him with no consequences. It wasn’t anything close to choking. Did we have disagreements? Of course. We had a lot of egos on that team, a lot of guys who wanted touches.”
Gonzales has referred to the report as “overblown” as well.
There is more to coaching than being a mentor, and Harvin would need to prove his worth as a teacher and as a recruiter. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a former icon like Harvin on staff, provided he remains on his current positive path.