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Healthy Harvin spells trouble for the rest of the SEC

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Posted: Monday, September 15, 2008 12:00 am

Good luck, Southeastern Conference.

On Monday morning, Percy Harvin smiled and said something no opposing defensive coordinator wants to hear: "(I feel) 100 times better. I'm assuming I can be a lot better."

Harvin said he's 100 percent for the first time since his sophomore year at Virginia Beach's Landstown High.

He doesn't have to pop Ibuprofen anymore to help the pain subside. There's no more feeling like "someone stabbed me in the back of the foot," or any more lingering sores from doing the long jump in high school or playing basketball.

There is, however, reason to believe it's going to be far more difficult to game plan against the No. 4 Gators (2-0).

Harvin missed the preseason after recovering from right-heel surgery and had just five carries and one reception in his season premiere against Miami.

"(The heel) has been nagging me since high school," Harvin said. "All those years it was tearing the bone in my heel."

Needless to say, UF coach Urban Meyer said Harvin's going to be more involved in the offense.

"That's a helluva toy," Meyer said of Harvin.

As Harvin put it, Meyer came to him and told him, "He's ready to cut me loose."

Not to mention that Harvin put on 20 pounds of muscle this off-season. Last season, Harvin said he was benching around 325 pounds. Now he's up to 420. For those counting at home, the difference is about the size of a female UF cheerleader.

Since Harvin couldn't even "squat all the way down" in the weight room because of his heel, he had to focus more on his upper body - something he now calls a "blessing in disguise." All that remains from the surgery is a scar on the back of his heel about the length of a marker.

"I needed to put on a little more weight so I could take a pounding," Harvin said.

Maybe he'll take a pounding, if defenses can catch him. Harvin and his teammates say he hasn't lost any of the speed that helped him total 1,622 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

"He looks full speed," cornerback Joe Haden said. "Every time Percy goes out there and goes, he's full speed. He never goes out there half-speed at all."

Whatever speed he goes, it gets his teammates' attention. Middle linebacker Brandon Spikes called Harvin the most electrifying player he's ever seen.

"He gets it and boom," Spikes said.

It was not easy to come back for Harvin. The heel injury also caused him tendonitis in his knees and, according to Harvin, his hips were going all kind of crazy because he was over-planting on his other leg.

He said the lowest point of his comeback was during two-a-days, right before the fall semester started.

"In the spring I was suppose to be cruising along, and I got out there and was trying to cut like I was never injured," Harvin said. "I paid for that during the two-a-days….It was just me being hard-headed."

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