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First-round pick Harvin brings flexibility, Wildcat to Vikings

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Percy Harvin is making the move from Florida to Minnesota, and he may be bringing the Wildcat with him.

Less than 24 hours after selecting the versatile Gators receiver in the first round, the Minnesota Vikings were already talking about how Harvin can add some sizzle to their offense.

"He does some things that we haven't had here," receivers coach George Stewart said Sunday. "From an explosive standpoint, you talk about the Wildcat situation. So many things you can do with Percy Harvin athletically that we don't have here."

In three seasons at Florida, Harvin emerged as one of the most dangerous all-purpose players in the country. He split time between receiver and running back, and Gators coach Urban Meyer said Harvin is "the best counter runner I've ever seen."

"I've coached some great players but not a dual threat and a reckless runner like that," Meyer said. "I've had our opponents say they've never faced anything like that."

It will be interesting to see how coach Brad Childress incorporates a player with Harvin's unique skill set into his version of the West Coast offense. The coach has built the Vikings into a run-first offense with backs Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, and fans have often complained that Childress' system lacks creativity.

Now, however, the Vikings may have found a player who can turn all those short passes that Minnesota quarterbacks throw into long gains. Harvin scored at least once in every game last year and averaged a staggering 9.55 yards per carry in his three years in college.

"We have some guys now that give us a chance to be successful," Stewart said. "Along with the offensive line, you look at Leslie Frazier and his defense. I feel we have a chance to have a special year."

When asked specifically about the Wildcat, a formation the Miami Dolphins introduced to the NFL with success last year that featured running back Ronnie Brown taking the direct snap from center, Stewart sounded intrigued.

"I would sure hope so. With his flexibility, you look at that," Stewart said. "I can't speak for our coordinator or head football coach but there are some options we can do with this young man that gives us a chance to be successful."

At 5-foot-11, Harvin is not the prototypical size for an NFL receiver, but he makes up for that with outstanding quickness and the ability to make tacklers miss in the open field. He will likely see plenty of time as a slot receiver, motion into the backfield to take the occasional handoff, and return some kicks.

"I honestly don't have a preference," Harvin said. "I feel like I can do and play multiple positions so wherever the coach seems to think I fit best, that's what I will do."

Of course, none of his physical talents will matter if his off-the-field troubles follow Harvin as well. As a high schooler in Virginia, Harvin turned off some colleges because of several altercations with other students. And he reportedly failed a drug test at the NFL Combine in February.

"I was young and made a lot of mistakes and didn't know how to handle a lot of things at the time," Harvin said. "Through all this, I have learned a lot and continue to move on in the future and a lot of that is in my past."

Harvin's sister is moving with him to Minnesota, and his mother and stepfather could move here as well, to help him out.

"Percy Harvin is a class kid and he made mistakes, I made mistakes as a young kid," said Stewart, who coached Terrell Owens in San Francisco. "So, can you forgive those mistakes? Absolutely."

Another reason Harvin fell to the Vikings at No. 22 was a question about his durability. He missed five games because of injury in three years at Florida and was limited in several others. His foot is still healing from heel surgery and he also dealt with ankle injuries, tendinitis, migraine headaches, a concussion and a hip pointer.

But the Vikings say their doctors have cleared Harvin. The gregarious receiver said he has learned to play with pain ever since he was a boy, when he joked that he could come home with "a bone breaking out of my skin and my mother would just say, 'soak it in some Epsom salts and get on out of here."'

"I don't like to sit out," Harvin said. "If I sit out and somebody's scoring, I feel like I could be scoring too."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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