Spikes, not Harvin, returning to Gators

One prominent Florida player is going, another is staying with the BCS champion Gators.

Junior wide receiver Percy Harvin announced Thursday that he will enter the NFL draft, while All-American linebacker Brandon Spikes said he will return for his senior season.

College football underclassmen have a Thursday deadline to file paperwork to be included in April's NFL draft.

Harvin, a big-play receiver, had 40 catches for 645 yards and seven touchdowns for Florida.

"I will have a lot of great memories from my time at Florida, but the [BCS] championships we won in 2006 and 2008 will be at the top of my list," Harvin said in a statement released by the university. "When it is all said and done, I wanted to win. I wanted to be a part of championship teams."

Spikes, an all-Southeastern Conference selection the past two years, said he is remaining in school because he wants to ensure his draft position.

"I'm excited to hear that Brandon is coming back," Florida coach Urban Meyer said in a statement. "At the end of the day, I want our players to make educated decisions about their future. Brandon has obviously done that.

"He was the heart and soul of our defense this year. He was the quarterback of our defense and set the tone in many of our victories."

The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Spikes also said his friendship with All-America quarterback Tim Tebow, who is also returning to the Gators for his senior season, played a part in the decision.

"It was a tough decision for me and my family," Spikes said. "I just felt like it was the right choice to come back. I love the coaching staff and my teammates and I look forward to playing another year in front of the best fans in America."

Joe Schad covers college football for ESPN.