|Debose not quite comfortable in Harvin's shoes|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 07 August 2009 11:40|
He could get his touches, though.
Debose, the team's most highly touted newcomer, has the inside track to fill Harvin's role this fall. Coach Urban Meyer has raved about the 5-foot-11, 185-pound speedster since national signing day in February, constantly comparing him to Harvin.
For Debose, it's been an understandable and uncomfortable situation.
On one hand, he sees Harvin's speed, elusiveness and game-breaking ability in himself. On the other hand, Debose knows Harvin still casts a huge shadow at Florida, and he would rather not deal with the pressure of trying to live up to such lofty expectations.
ike to hear.''
He can blame Meyer.
Meyer fueled the comparisons throughout spring practice and at speaking engagements this summer, building the former Orlando-area star up to mythical proportions, to Harvin-like proportions.
``He runs a little different than a lot of guys,'' Meyer said after watching Debose's first practice Thursday. ``He's got that spring in his step. He's a rare athlete.''
But even Meyer acknowledges the danger in building up players before they've even played a meaningful down. It backfired with defensive tackles John Brown, Torrey Davis and Omar Hunter, and hasn't worked out well for running back Emmanuel Moody, either.
Then again, quarterback Tim Tebow, safety Will Hill, running back Jeff Demps and cornerback Joe Haden seemingly handled the hype with ease.
No one knows how Debose will respond.
``I don't think he needs to worry about being the next Percy Harvin,'' receivers coach Billy Gonzales said. ``I told him all along through the recruiting process, 'We're going to use you like we've done with Percy, but I don't want you to be Percy. I want you to be Andre Debose.'
``Percy's special. Andre's going to be special. But at the same time, he's got to keep learning, keep getting better. I don't want him to be Percy. I want him to be an explosive Andre Debose and be his own player.''
ord High last season and scored 18 touchdowns. He also threw for 353 yards and four scores, and added 633 return yards. While lining up all over the field and burning defenses each week, he became one of the most sought-after recruits in the country.
``It's hard to live up to the hype,'' said Hill, who was widely considered the No. 1 safety in the country coming out of high school in 2008. ``You can't live up to the hype. I had it. It's impossible. You just block everything out and play your ball, your type of game.''
Debose chose Florida over Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami and Southern California. Even though Debose picked the Gators partly because of the way they used Harvin, he never expected so much buildup.
``I just stay humble,'' he said. ``Can't let it get to my head. It kind of drives me because I don't want to let too many people down.''
Harvin rarely disappointed.
He led the team in receiving and was second in rushing last season. He caught 40 passes for 644 yards and seven touchdowns, and ran for 660 yards and 10 scores.
Harvin finished his college career with 1,929 yards receiving, 1,852 yards rushing and 32 total touchdowns. He averaged 9.5 yards per carry and 11.6 yards every time he touched the ball.
He was at his best in big games, earning MVP honors in the 2006 Southeastern Conference championship game and totaling 171 yards and a touchdown in Florida's 24-14 victory over Oklahoma in the Bowl Championship Series national title game.
He wasn't perfect, though.
Harvin missed five games in three years because of injury and was limited in several more. He also failed a drug test at the NFL combine. Durability and character issues kept Harvin from being a top-10 pick in the draft, but the Vikings took a chance on him with the 22nd selection.
Debose missed several workouts this summer because of a hamstring injury, but said he has fully recovered. Distancing himself from all the Harvin comparisons might not be so easy.
``I know I can't get away from it, so it doesn't bother me,'' Debose said.