University of Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin (Virginia Beach, Va.), kick returner Brandon James (St. Augustine, Fla.) and quarterback Tim Tebow (Jacksonville, Fla.) have been selected to the Coaches’ Freshman All-SEC team, the league office announced on Thursday. The three selections garnered by the Gators are their most since placing seven on the conference’s all-rookie team in 2003.
Harvin garnered the honor after running for a career-high 105 yards and a touchdown on six carries (17.5 yards per rush) and catching five passes for 62 yards and another score in the SEC Championship Game, becoming just the second rookie in the 15-year history of the title game to take home MVP honors. He has collected 25 catches for 367 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while also running for 406 yards and two scores on just 36 carries (11.3 avg.) this season; his 773 yards of total offense on just 61 touches give him an average of 12.7 yards per touch that ranks first nationally among freshmen. He earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors on Sept. 11, after torching UCF for 99 yards and a TD on for catches and gaining 11 yards on two carries. Harvin was recently named a first-team Freshman All-American by Rivals.com and The Sporting News’ SEC Offensive Freshman of the Year. He also swept the 2006 SEC Freshman of the Year awards, garnering the Associated Press’ accolade on Monday and the coaches’ honor two days later.
James ranks fourth in the SEC, and leads all conference freshmen, with a 11.6-yard punt return average (335 yards on 29 returns), while also rating 10th in the league with an 17.5-yard kick return average on 20 attempts. He established a single-game school record for punt return yards against Western Carolina, piling up 155 on six tries; the effort also marked the ninth-highest single-game total in SEC history, as well as the second-best one-game performance by a freshman in league annals. One of his punt returns against WCU was a 77-yard touchdown jaunt, making him just the second freshman in school history to take a punt back for a score, and the first Gator to do so since Lito Sheppard in 2000. He was recently named a first-team Freshman All-American by Rivals.com.
Tebow’s stellar freshman campaign has seen him run the ball 79 times for 430 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns, while completing 21-of-32 passes (65.6 percent) for 357 yards and four scores. His average of 5.4 yards per carry ranks 35th nationally, and second in the country among quarterbacks; his seven rushing scores also place him eighth nationally among signal callers, and he is one of only nine quarterbacks to have two rushing touchdowns against AP top-25 competition. He is currently one TD shy of tying Jimmy Fisher’s single-season school record for quarterback scores in a campaign, set in 1976. After playing a part in each of Florida’s three touchdowns * two passes and a run * in its Oct. 7 win over LSU, Tebow took home SEC Freshman of the Week accolades.
Second-ranked Florida will take to the field again on Jan. 8, 2007, when it will meet Ohio State in the BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz. UF’s appearance in the BCS National Championship Game will mark the third time in school history that it has entered a bowl game with a chance to win the national title. The Gators claimed the 1996 NCAA crown with a 52-20 victory over top-ranked Florida State in the Sugar Bowl behind a three-touchdown, 306-yard performance from Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel. The Gators also played for the national championship in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl after posting a 12-0 regular-season record.