GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida receiver Percy Harvin hasn't felt this good since 10th grade, an encouraging sign for the fourth-ranked Gators -- and maybe a troubling one for Tennessee.
Harvin, the team's most dynamic player, missed the opener against Hawaii following heel surgery and touched the ball just six times against Miami.
Now, it looks as if he could be the centerpiece of Florida's offense at Tennessee on Saturday.
"Coach just came to me and said he's ready to cut me loose," Harvin said Monday, speaking publicly for just the second time in 2008.
That could be bad news for the Vols (1-1). Harvin ran nine times for 75 yards and a touchdown in last season's 59-20 win over Tennessee in Gainesville and caught four passes for 120 yards. And guess what? He wasn't even full speed.
Harvin's right heel had bothered him since his high school days in Virginia Beach. It was initially treated as tendinitis at Florida, but the pain persisted and eventually caused soreness in his knee and hip.
"I guess to describe it is like somebody stabbing me in the back of my foot," Harvin said. "It got to a point where I couldn't bend. Sometimes in the weight room I couldn't squat all the way down. It was causing bad tendinitis in my knees, and my hips were going all kind of crazy because I was over-planting on my other leg. It just caused all kinds of injuries to me."
Despite the nagging injury, Harvin ran for 1,192 yards and nine touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Gators and caught 93 passes for 1,285 yards and six scores.
Doctors thought his heel would recover with rest, but when it didn't get any better this spring, they opted for surgery. Harvin had surgery in April and missed most of summer workouts and fall practice. He returned before the opener, but coach Urban Meyer decided to ease him back into the mix slowly.
He didn't play against the Warriors and barely got on the field against the Hurricanes. He caught one pass for 12 yards and ran five times for 27 yards and a touchdown.
He showed some elusiveness, but nothing like what he did last season when he totaled more than 1,600 yards rushing and receiving, scored 10 touchdowns and prompted Meyer and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow to start touting him as a Heisman candidate.
The Gators (2-0) expect much more against the Vols.
"Yeah, we're going to involve him a little bit more this week," Meyer said. "That's a hell of a toy. That's a talented guy."
And it's possible that few have seen him completely healthy.
"It's been nagging me since high school just because I did long-jumping and triple-jumping and played basketball and ran track," Harvin said. "It's all those years of it kind of tearing at the bone at my heel. That caused other injuries, but we've got it all figured out."
How much better does he feel now?
"One hundred times better," he added.
The Gators believe Harvin's potential is limitless -- if he can stay healthy.
He hasn't played every game in either of his two seasons, missing time because of an ankle injury in 2006 and sitting out two games last year because of migraine headaches.
He's also sat out countless practices because of a hip pointer, tendinitis in his Achilles' tendon/heel and tendinitis in his knee.
Frustrated by all the injuries, Harvin put in more time in the weight room and became one of the team's strongest players at his position (his bench press is up to 420 pounds). The 5-foot-11 speedster also added weight -- he's nearly 200 pounds -- and feels the injury will be a "blessing in disguise."
"I think being stronger and feeling stronger out there running my routes, I think I should be pretty good," he said.