Harvin Unleashed

Percy Harvin

The Florida Gators are ranked fourth in the country and despite having a week off may have just gotten the news they wanted to hear the most this season. Super star junior running back/wide receiver Percy Harvin is healthy and ready to go full speed for the first time since last season.

To the dismay of defensive coordinators in the SEC, Harvin says he feels better than he has in over five years.

The things Percy Harvin can do on the football field sometimes defy description. You will see him inside a mass of defenders only to squirt out the other side and at 100 miles an hour. When the ball is in the air, nobody but Harvin owns that ball. br>
The problem with Harvin is that for about six years now he has had pain to deal with. A condition in the heel of his foot caused severe pain that in turn made him favor the heel and took away from the things he could do. Various ailments popped up due to the lone injury and Harvin missed a bunch of practice time and even some games due to the heel.

"My tenth grade year in high school," Harvin said Monday when asked when the pain started for him. "It has been nagging me since high school since I did triple jumping, long jumping, played basketball, and ran track, All those years it was tearing at the bones in my heels but we have it all figured out now. I feel 100 times better."

He does feel better now, but it is purely miraculous what he could do under the duress his heel was under for so long.

"It was like someone was stabbing me in the back of the foot," he said. "It got to the point where I couldn't bend. Sometimes in the weight room I couldn't squat all the way down. It caused bad tendinitis in my knee...my hips were going all kinds of crazy because I was over planting on my other leg. It was just causing all kinds of problems. I was taking a lot of ibuprofen and kind of resting it. I wasn't getting a lot of practice last year. We thought it was tendinitis and of course to fix that is to rest. Then we just kept pushing through it and pushing through it and it was making my bone tear more and more."

But for Harvin, Gators head coach Urban Meyer, and Florida fans, the best of Percy Harvin seems yet to come. He now thinks he is ready to do his thing. br>
"The last two weeks I have been full go," he said.

He played a lot in the Miami game two weeks ago, but he only got the ball sparingly. According to Harvin, that was the plan. They were not going to put too much stress on him and risk setting him back once again.

"I pretty much knew what I can do, but the six touches was to see about my explosiveness and was it going to ache after the game," he said. "It didn't do that so I feel like I can go. It felt good to be back out there, it has been a long journey, so to get that touchdown...it felt great.

The big key was after the game, the few days following. Would there be any soreness or tenderness in the heel area or any other part of the body that may have been effected by his heel? "We had nothing so that was good," Harvin said. "We contacted the doctor and let them know everything was good. He said cut the chains loose and I pretty much can go from here."

He proved enough to Meyer and Meyer is now ready to turn Harvin loose on the SEC. Harvin implied that he expects to get the ball a lot more than six times this Saturday when the Gators take on SEC foe Tennessee on the road.

"I have been practicing a little more so coach came to me and said we are ready to go," Harvin said. So, I assume I will (get the ball more)...With that said...I wouldn't guarantee it.

"I felt great with the few touches I did get. I felt really good. After that game and going into last week, I felt strong and really fast. I think it all worked out for the best."

If not for Harvin's stubbornness to get better quicker, he may not have missed any playing time this year. As it turns out, he set himself back in the spring by working on the foot and heel a little too much.

"In the spring I was just supposed to ease it along and I kind of got out there and kind of cut and did some of the stuff like I was never injured," he said. "I paid for that during the two-a-day practices. I was just being hard headed. I was supposed to just be jogging through routes and I was out there cutting and acting like I didn't have surgery.

"I was running pretty good in the spring, but I got to two-a-days and kind of hit a slump and I got kind of down. After two-a-days I started running and my planting wasn't how I wanted it, so we started second guessing ourselves."

In the big scheme of things it was just a minor time set back for Harvin. There were about two weeks of really worrying, but all of that started to fade when the bruising from work outs started healing.

"Once I started practicing and repping and repping it started getting strong," Harvin said. "As of last week I didn't feel anything, so it seems everything is good."

As for the silver lining to this cloudy story, Harvin was able to transform his upper body a little more than usual while his lower body healed. He went from 190-pound sophomore to a 204-pound junior that can now bench press more than 400 pounds. It is something that he says will help him play football better and make him tougher. He improved his bench press almost 100 pounds during this time frame.

"It was around 325 or 350 (before the surgery), now about 420," he said of his bench press. "It was kind of a blessing in disguise. I needed to put on weight so I could take on the pounding. Then I had my surgery and put on the weight. I am out there running good and still have my speed. So, it worked out pretty good. I think just being stronger and running my routes, I think that should make me better."

Harvin now turns his full attention to the task at hand which is the Gators first SEC contest on the road in front of 100,000 screaming Neyland Stadium fans in Knoxville, Tennessee. He remembers his first SEC road game to the same place two years ago and the crazy atmosphere.

"All I can remember is the stadium shaking," he said. "That was my first road game and pretty much my biggest game coming into the season. I can remember the crowd shaking and not being able to hear Tebow calling the plays. Being a freshman I didn't know what to expect. Now I have been to a few big games, so I know what to expect.

In that game, the Gators pulled out a narrow 21-20 victory. Harvin was a big part of the game plan coming in, and it would be the first being utilized as a running back in the offense. All of that changed when he went down with an injury in the second quarter. Harvin is ready to show what the 100,000 fans missed that night and get back to it. Meyer reminded him of missing most of that game earlier this week.

"It feels great (getting back there), and that is the first thing coach said to me when the week started," Harvin said. "I was a big part of the offense in that game. It was the first game I was playing running back. It took away a lot of the offense, but we still came away with the victory...I am just looking forward to getting back on the field...just getting back out there and being able to play again is a blessing."

As for whether he runs from the backfield or catches the ball in the flat or down field, Harvin doesn't care how he gets the ball.

"I just like having the ball in my hands," he said.

And so do we Percy, so do we.

FightinGators.com Recommended Stories