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Former Florida Gators star Percy Harvin has looked good with Minnesota Vikings

Percy Harvin gains some of his 2,081 all-purpose yards, which were sixth in the league and second among rookies.

Associated Press

Percy Harvin gains some of his 2,081 all-purpose yards, which were sixth in the league and second among rookies.

Percy Harvin's preseason ex­change with Brett Favre proved prophetic.

Harvin, a former University of Florida star, was the first player Favre met when the future Hall of Fame quarterback made his well-publicized arrival at Vikings headquarters in August.

The two exchanged pleasantries, and Favre told the rookie receiver/kick returner, "Make me look good."

Harvin, 21, has done just that, becoming one of the most dynamic players in the league. His impact on kick returns, receiving and rushing earned him a Pro Bowl invitation and NFL offensive rookie of the year award.

Harvin called it a privilege to land on a team with Favre and star running back Adrian Peterson. And the Vikings, who play the Cowboys on Sunday in the NFC division playoff round, have been impressed by Harvin's character, toughness and playmaking ability.

"Percy's on his way to a league of his own," Favre said. "He's quick like (Patriots receiver) Wes Welker. He's got a long ways to go to be in the same category with Wes. But at the rate he's going, he's a dominant force in a lot of ways."

Said Peterson: "I call him 'Little Phenom.' He's got the heart of a lion when he's out there playing."

Harvin's rookie year has been a bit of a roller coaster.

A key cog on two Gators national championship teams, Harvin dropped to 22nd in last year's draft partly because of a positive marijuana test before the scouting combine. The Vikings took him after coach Brad Childress went to Florida to meet with Harvin and his family.

Harvin, who left Florida after his junior season, has said he learned from the experience. In an story, Harvin said he thought he had let down not only himself, but his family and the University of Florida, calling the day his positive test was revealed "probably one of the worst days of my life."

Harvin said teams passing on him in the draft hasn't motivated him this season. He just wanted to make a quick impact, which he did by scoring three touchdowns in his first three games.

"Everything happens for a reason in life, whether it's good or bad," said Harvin, who has six receiving touchdowns and two on kickoffs. "I made the most out of the situation.

"And me landing with this team, playing with Brett, getting a chance to play with Adrian Peterson and some of those guys, it's very humbling. And I was very privileged to be in that situation. I took the most of it."

As he did at Florida, Harvin did his damage all over the field. He racked up a club-record 2,081 all-purpose yards (sixth in the league and second to St. Louis' Danny Amendola among rookies) on 790 receiving, 135 rushing and 1,156 on returns. The 5-foot-11, 192-pounder doesn't have size, but he makes up for it with speed and elusiveness.

"He's a nightmare for defenses and special teams coordinators," Minnesota guard Artis Hicks said. "I knew he was going to be good, but it just surprises me that he's this good this quick."

Harvin showed his toughness by playing through a shoulder injury and dealing with migraine headaches, which have affected him for most of his life. He missed one game and several practices because of them, but he visited the Mayo Clinic in December and hasn't had an issue since.

"That's what you get paid to do," Harvin said. "If you are able to play through it, play through it."

Harvin said he and Favre clicked, and the three-time MVP helped taught him how to be a professional and dissect tendencies in a defense. Harvin also credited Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield, who covered him a lot in training camp and made his transition to the NFL easier.

The Vikings aren't surprised by Harvin's success, saying he has the complete package.

"When the good Lord was making Percy, somebody got his attention, because (Harvin) got everything," Vikings receiver coach George Stewart told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "He got brains, toughness, physicalness, speed. He is one of those rare athletes that you're fortunate to get."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Former Florida Gators star Percy Harvin has looked good with Minnesota Vikings 01/14/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 14, 2010 8:48pm]
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