Harvin ready to turn it loose

Percy Harvin gains yardage in the first quarter against Miami at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Sept. 6, 2008.

Brian W. Kratzer/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Monday, September 15, 2008 at 4:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 15, 2008 at 4:28 p.m.

Percy Harvin may be more than just back. Hes back and perhaps better than anyones ever seen him.

Im assuming (Ill be) a whole lot better, the Florida wide receiver said Monday. Im bigger and stronger, stronger running my routes.

After missing the spring and most of the preseason recovering from heel surgery, Harvin said hes 100 percent now and feeling better than he ever has in his Florida career. Better than he has in a long time.

When asked when was the last time hes felt this good, Harvin said, My 10th grade in high school. (The heel) has been nagging me since high school. I did the long jump and played basketball and ran track. All those years it was tearing the bone in my heel. Weve got it all figured out now. I feel 100 times better.

Harvin took the biggest leap in his recovery last week when he emerged from the Miami game without any pain or discomfort. He got only six touches (and scored a key touchdown in the fourth quarter) in his first playing time this season, but that was enough to let him know he is back.

The six touches were to see if I still had my explosiveness and would it ache after the game, and it didnt, Harvin said. Its been a long journey. To get that touchdown, it felt great.

I laughed (when I got hit the first time and popped back up). I said, Im back. Thats what I said in my head. All my teammates were saying its good to be back.

Harvin said the UF medical staff passed along the positive report from the Miami game to the doctor who performed the surgery.

We let him know everything was a go, Harvin said. He said, Cut the chains loose. So, I can pretty much go from here.

UF coach Urban Meyer said Monday that Harvin will be more involved in the offense in Saturdays game at Tennessee.

Harvin said hes not sure how many touches he will get.

I cant tell you that, he said. But Coach just came up to me and said hes ready to turn me loose. With all that, I assume (Ill be a big part of the game plan). But I dont guarantee it.

Harvin was a focal point of the offense last season and one of the most electrifying players in college football. He could be even more dangerous now for two reasons: hes bigger and stronger than a year ago, and that pesky heel is no longer crimping his style like it did in his first two seasons.

A lot of times I had to take Ibuprofen and rest it (last season), he said. I wasnt getting a lot of practice time. We thought it was tendinitis and to fix that is rest. We kept resting it.

(The pain) was like somebody stabbing me in the back of the foot. (Favoring it) caused all kinds of other injuries.

Finally, in the spring, the decision was made to surgically repair the heel. Harvin said he had a frustrating setback trying to do too much during two-a-days, but now hes full go and feeling stronger than ever.

During his rehab, Harvin spent a lot of time in the weight room, where he got bigger and stronger. He now weighs 205 pounds and is bench-pressing 420 pounds. A year ago, he said he was benching about 325.

(The surgery) was a blessing in disguise, He said. I needed to put on weight and get stronger. Im out here running good and Ive still got my speed. It worked out for the best. I feel great. Im feeling strong and fast.

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