Florida Gators' Percy Harvin stays in Gainesville to get healthy rather than go home for Christmas

GAINESVILLE — Florida all-purpose back Percy Harvin is so determined to play in the Jan. 8 BCS national championship game, he is bypassing the chance to go home to Virginia for Christmas.

Harvin, who suffered a high right ankle sprain against Florida State on Nov. 29, will remain in Gainesville next week, putting in extra work with the athletic trainers. The Gators will break for the holidays after practice Sunday and won't return until Dec. 27.

"They moved him from the pool to the trampoline," coach Urban Meyer said Friday. "And then, obviously, the next thing will be the ground, hard surface."

EYES ON THE PRIZE: With a national title at stake in its game against Oklahoma, Florida can't afford to have players lose focus — or get into trouble — during the holiday break. That was part of the message College Football Hall of Fame coach and current ESPN analyst Lou Holtz brought the Gators on Friday.

"Coach Holtz came in and was gracious enough to visit with our team a little bit," Meyer said. "That was part of his discussion. I've admired our professionalism, and basically, he told them the same thing: The team that most handles itself professionally will win this game.

"They are two very good teams, very talented teams. The ones that invest in the practice routine and get themselves ready will win this game."

TEBOW NOT LEANING: Junior quarterback Tim Tebow denied reports that he is leaning toward going to the NFL after this season. Tebow said he will not consider leaving or staying without serious consultation with his parents and coaches.

FSU: Bowden pleased with practices

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State wrapped up its on­- campus practices and will be off for two days before reporting to Orlando on Monday for the Champs Sports Bowl against Wisconsin on Dec. 27.

"I can't ever remember — with as many bowls as we've been to — I can't ever remember a time when it's been so pleasant. The weather's been so doggone good," coach Bobby Bowden said.

"I remember sitting in the tower and freezing to death sometimes at this time of year. But boy, we've been able to get all of our practices in. And we've done about everything we've set out to do."

He and his staff even shaved off a practice, opting for only one day with a double session, which gave the coaches more time to study and evaluate film of themselves and the Badgers.

"Normally, we've worked 14 days, 14 practices, and if we get all of our days in next week, it'll be 13 practices," Bowden said.

"We feel like we're getting the same results."

Injury update: Bowden said safety Darius McClure won't play against the Badgers because of a knee injury.

Richmond wins first I-AA championship

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Eric Ward caught a touchdown pass and threw one to lead Richmond past Montana 24-7 for its first Division I-AA title.

The Spiders started 4-3 but won their next five to get into the playoffs. There, they beat Eastern Kentucky at home, then won road games against three-time defending national champion Appalachian State and Northern Iowa to reach the final.

Friday, Ward caught a 23-yard halfback option pass from John Crone 5:58 in for a 7-0 lead. Ward hit Garrett Wilkins for a 13-yard score that made it 21-0 with 2:13 left in the first half.

Alabama-Va. Tech: The teams will meet in the 2009 season opener at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sept. 5. The Crimson Tide beat then-No. 9 Clemson 34-10 there to open this season.

Georgia: Defensive tackle Jeff Owens said he will return for his senior season. He was considered the team's top defensive lineman before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in the opener.

Hawaii: The school and former coach June Jones resolved their financial dispute over the early termination of his contract. A foundation run by Jones, who left to take over SMU, will donate $100,000 to a scholarship fund, and an undisclosed donor contributed $100,000 to the school.

USC: The NCAA granted guard Jeff Byers, a second-team all-conference player, a sixth season of eligibility. He missed 2005 with torn cartilage in his right hip and most of 2006 with a sprained back.

Times staff writer Brian Landman contributed to this report, which used information from the Associated Press.

Florida Gators' Percy Harvin stays in Gainesville to get healthy rather than go home for Christmas

12/19/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 22, 2008 11:38am]

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