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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Percy Harvin's No.1 jersey may be fitting a little tighter than last season.

Since rehabilitation from an April heel surgery left the junior speedster unable to run for much of the summer, the preseason All-American needed to find another way to push himself during the off-season.

What he found was an open weight room door, a new body and a new nightmare for the rest of the Southeastern Conference.

Harvin, who came to UF as a 180-pound freshman, has spent the last four months squatting, curling and lifting his way to a chiseled 205-pound frame.

"Percy is an unbelievable athlete," senior long snapper James Smith said. "He benched 405 this summer. I saw it."

At first glance, Harvin looks more like a running back than a wide receiver.

That, of course, is also by design.

The Virginia Beach, Va., native rushed for 764 yards on 83 carries as a sophomore in 2007.

Wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales said he hopes Harvin's new found strength will help him hold up to the weekly pounding he receives from SEC defenses.

"He dedicated and trained, and he looks fantastic," Gonzales said. "Hopefully that new body will make him a little more durable."

Urban Meyer can thank strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti for making one of the nation's deadliest offensive weapons even more of a threat.

"Just look at him. He looks like a completely different person," Marotti said.

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Some have questioned whether or not Harvin has sacrificed any of his 4.3-second 40-yard dash speed in pursuit of his new found strength - a discussion Gonzales laughs at.

"I'm not worried about it at all," he said with a smirk. "Not with him."

Harvin caught 59 balls for 858 yards and four touchdowns last season.

He is almost fully recovered from the surgery that repaired his injured right heel, a problem that has bothered him since high school, and should be ready for the start of the season.

Initially diagnosed as tendonitis by the UF medical staff, pain from the injury persisted and eventually caused soreness in his knee and hip.

Despite his overwhelming success, Harvin has failed to appear in every game in either of his first two seasons in Gainesville.

He missed time as freshman in 2006 because of an ankle injury and was held out of two games last season due to migraine headaches.

A fully healed and rebuilt Harvin could go a long way in propelling the Gators to success in the 2008 campaign.

"Any time that you can add a guy like Percy back into the mix-that type of a playmaker- it's a tremendous advantage," Gonzales said. "I'm excited to have him healthy again and back out here."

When asked if there is a limit to the amount of weight the coaching staff would like to see Harvin gain, Marotti replied simply.

"We're at that point," he said.

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