US ARMY GAME: Confidence Oozes From Harvin

SAN ANTONIO --- The last guy between Percy Harvin and the basket was a confident 6-7 center, certain he was going to get the best of the 6-0 guard from Virginia Beach (VA) Landstown. Harvin showed no fear and went straight at the big guy. The big guy went up, pretty high but not quite high enough. Percy Harvin went up and kept on going up --- higher, higher and higher still until he dunked right in the face of the big guy.

(See Percy Harvin profile)

On the way back down the court, Harvin had an almost cocky little smile on his face, the one that defensive backs in the state of Virginia have come to know all too well over the past four years. Just as he's not supposed to dunk on 6-7 centers who see him coming, he's really not supposed to shred football defenses like he's the human version of a Cuisinart.

There are all sorts of things he's not supposed to do, but he does them anyway.

That's why Percy Harvin is rated (by as the top wide receiver prospect in the nation and the number three prospect overall. If you're looking for a human highlight reel in the making, a difference maker who simply runs over, under, around and through defenders, this is your man. He's the one with the fast, elusive dancing feet that must be made out of mercury and a set of hips so swivel that Elvis would have died for them.

Couple those elements with a rare level of self-confidence, an intangible that goes beyond measure. He simply believes he is the best and if you challenge him, he will simply prove it to you. He doesn't brag about what he's about to do. He simply welcomes any challenge and he responds in a big way.

"Tell me I can't do it and I'm just going to have to do everything I can to prove you wrong," said Harvin, the five-star rated wide receiver who is committed to the Florida Gators.

The 6-7 center didn't exactly tell Harvin he couldn't dunk on him but there was a certain look in his eye that more or less threw down the gauntlet. Challenge issued and accepted.

"I dunked on that 6-7 dude last Thursday in New York," said Harvin, who averages 17 points per game for Landstown's basketball team. "I just took it up in his face. He looked pretty shocked and after the game he came up to me and told me that now he knew why I was one of the top-rated football players in the nation."

Defensive backs tend to be a bit more vocal than that center in New York. They have this habit of talking a little bit too much trash and that only plays right into Harvin's hands. When he hears the talk his confidence just automatically dials up a notch or two. If the trash talk involves predictions that Harvin's about to get knocked into next week, that's even better.

"I just like to make a fool out of people, especially people who talk about how good they are and how they're gonna knock my head off," he said. "Well, all I can say is bring it on. Give it your best try because it just may not be quite as easy as it looks."

The numbers are proof positive that it's a whole lot easier to talk about stopping Percy Harvin than it is to actually do it. When he was a junior he had 58 pass receptions for 1,016 yards and 17 touchdowns to go with 726 rushing yards on 68 attempts (10.7 yards per carry) and another 10 touchdowns. He had four punt returns for touchdowns and chipped in with 10 interceptions on defense.

The senior year stats were an equally impressive 75 pass catches for 1,313 yards and 14 touchdowns to go with 504 rushing yards and another 13 touchdowns. He returned three interceptions, two kickoffs and a punt for touchdowns.

After those Star Wars numbers as a junior, it would only figure the trash talk would subside but instead of respectful silence Harvin heard more talk than ever before.

"It was kind of funny this year," said Harvin. "Some of these guys talking about how they were going to stop me … after I would score two or three touchdowns on them, they'd say 'Well you won't do that at the Army All-American Bowl' and all I can say is maybe I won't but I'm here and you're not so what does that tell you?"

It isn't just football where Harvin is a one-man wrecking crew. In the spring, he is a force to be reckoned with, the defending state champion in the 100 (10.69), 200 (21.59), long jump (23-5.5) and triple jump (47-7). His four individual state titles helped Landstown tie for the state championship in the spring of 2005.

This combination of speed, leaping ability and uncoachable athletic instincts that made Harvin a must-get recruit this year. He was the subject of an intense national recruiting battle that finally narrowed down to a decision to go with Florida and Coach Urban Meyer over Pete Carroll and Southern Cal. He announced he would be a Gator back on December 19 along with his teammate Damon McDaniel, another of the nation's best wide receiver recruits.

The choice of Florida made his mother, Linda, a very happy woman. She never pushed her son one way or another, but she let him know when he decided for Florida that she was very happy with his choice.

"She never once told me I should go this place or that place but when I said it's Florida, I could see her face and she was really happy," he said. "She told me that she was hoping all along that I'd pick Florida."

Florida was the final choice because of the relationship he had built with Meyer and the Florida coaching staff along with the fact that it's an easier trip for his mother to see him play in Gainesville.

"Coach Meyer is the kind of coach who you can trust 100 percent," he said. "I really like the way he gets involved in your life. All the Florida coaches do that. They're looking out for you, making sure you go to class, making sure you make your grades, making sure you're doing the right thing when you're not playing football.

"Those things were important to me. They were important to my mom, too, and I know that's why she likes the Florida coaches so much. She knows that she won't have to worry about me because the Florida coaches are going to take care of me and make sure I'm doing everything the way I should."

He's one of the crown jewels in a Florida recruiting class that is ranked number one in the nation by He's rooming in San Antonio this week with fellow Florida commit, five star rated wide receiver Jarred Fayson of Tampa Hillsborough, and the two of them are hanging around with Corey Hobbs (Oviedo), Carl Johnson (Durham, NC Southern) and Tim Tebow (Ponte Vedra Beach Nease), who will be joining them in the Florida recruiting class.

The five of them are doing some recruiting for the Gators while they are here. They're working on Brandon Spikes (Shelby, NC Crest), Andre Smith (Birmingham Huffman), C.J. Spiller (Lake Butler Union County) and Jai Eugene (Destrehan, LA).

"Me and Tebow and Jarred know exactly what's about to happen at Florida," said Harvin. "It may not happen next year when we're freshmen but when we're sophomores and juniors … you better watch out for the Gators. We're trying to get a few more guys to come join us. It's going to be very exciting."

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