MIAMI - Florida receiver Percy Harvin embraced coach Urban Meyer near midfield, got a kiss on the cheek and two congratulatory words.
“Unbelievable performance,” Meyer said.
Harvin, who missed the Southeastern Conference championship game because of an ankle injury, had 171 total yards and a touchdown in his return to help top-ranked Florida beat No. 2 Oklahoma 24-14 in the BCS championship game Thursday night. He ran nine times for 122 yards and a touchdown, caught five passes for 49 yards and proved once again to be the fastest — maybe even the most talented — player on the field.
“The brighter the lights, the bigger he plays,” Meyer said. “He’s a big-time game performer.”
Harvin had runs of 45 and 52 yards, getting the Gators out of a huge hole with the first one and then setting up the go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter with the second.
“There’s no feeling like being a champion,” Harvin said. “I love it. There’s nothing like it.”
Harvin lined up at running back, quarterback and receiver against the Sooners. He darted through holes, broke tackles, outran defenders and burned cornerbacks.
And he wasn’t 100 percent.
Meyer said Harvin was still slightly hobbled by his ankle injury. The junior severely sprained his right ankle against Florida State on Nov. 29. He worked the next week in hopes of playing against Alabama, but he wasn’t able to go — and said sitting on the sideline felt like being at a “funeral.”
There was little doubt he would be back on the field against Oklahoma. Harvin even stayed in Gainesville during a short break for Christmas to get treatment.
“I never doubted him,” linebacker Brandon Spikes said. “He worked and worked and worked to get back on the field after the injury against FSU, and it all paid off. He gave us a big lift. Percy is a dynamic player, and he is the ultimate weapon for an offense.”
Harvin gave the Gators a big boost in the second quarter when he slipped through a hole at the Florida 3 line and went 45 yards before getting tackled. Instead of facing poor field position and the possibility of a punt from their own end zone, the Gators were at midfield.
Florida ended up punting, but the run flipped the field. He was even better in the fourth, ripping off runs of 52 and 12 yards on consecutive plays to get the Gators in field-goal range. He seemed to injure his leg on the tackle, but after a few moments on the ground, he jumped to his feet and ran off the field.
He returned on the next drive and was healthy enough to carry a few more times and run around celebrating with teammates when it was over.
“Just to see him out there to do what he did,” receiver David Nelson said. “We know he’s been hurt. We know he’s been injured. To see him come out here and battle through the injuries, that just gives the team a tremendous lift.”
It might have been the last one.
Harvin is considering entering the NFL draft. The biggest question will be his durability.
No one will question his ability, especially considering what he did against the Sooners. And he wasn’t even 100 percent.
“He was spectacular,” Nelson said. “He carried us for most of the game. His speed and quickness, even not at 100 percent, he was the fastest player on the field.”
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