December 8, 2008

Harvin says he'll be ready to play

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Percy Harvin could not get his sprained ankle healthy enough to play in Saturday's SEC Championship Game. The junior wide receiver said Sunday he will not miss the BCS title game on Jan. 8.

"It's real important," Harvin said. "We made tremendous progress. We knew we couldn't pull it off in a week, but we'll definitely get it better. The doctors all told me they feel 100 percent confident that it will be 100 percent. They haven't let me down yet so I'm still sticking to their course."

Trying to get the ankle ready for Florida's matchup against then-No. 1 Alabama involved hours in the pool and many other routines but it was clear during pregame warmups at the Georgia Dome - the first time the media saw Harvin all week - that he would not be playing. Harvin could not jog and still had a considerable limp.

He was out of his protective boot at Sunday's gathering when it was announced Florida would face Big 12 champion Oklahoma in the BCS Championship Game at Dolphin Stadium in Miami. Progress is being made, but Harvin said he's going to keep rehabbing to make sure he's fully healthy by game time.

"... I'm doing everything I've been doing and a little bit more," he said. "We're in the national championship now so ... we'll be ready. ... I'm walking around. I'm feeling pretty good. I still have a little limp, there's still a little swelling in it but it's getting there."

Without Harvin, Florida's offense still functioned well in its 31-20 win against the Crimson Tide. But few, if any, players in college football can break a big play like Harvin, who has 35 receptions for 595 yards and seven touchdowns along with 538 rushing yards and nine scores on 61 carries.

"He's got to get back, he's got to get healthy, he's got to get back in the rhythm of things," wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales said. "He's got some great doctors working with him, great trainers working with him to get him back and get him moving because he can definitely help us."

Junior quarterback Tim Tebow three threw touchdown passes - one each to Carl Moore, David Nelson and Riley Cooper - but Harvin was clearly missed in the Gators' attack. Tebow finished with 216 passing yards to remain in contention for his second straight Heisman Trophy.

Florida might need all the points it can get against Oklahoma, the first team in NCAA history to score more than 60 points in six straight games. The Sooners have scored 45 or more points in 11 of 13 games this season. Their only loss was to Texas, 45-35, on a neutral field. Quarterback Sam Bradford is also a Heisman contender and might be the player to beat for the award.

"As you've seen the last six or seven weeks we've been pretty hot," Harvin said. "Coming into this year, we knew if we could get some stops on defense our offense could put up some points. We finally got the chemistry going on offense and we're pretty good right now. ... I've been trying to lay low because I've been wanting it too bad. The coaches have been telling me to relax and get healthy. I'm doing pretty well right now."

Said Tebow: "He's getting a lot better. I know it's a pretty bad injury but I don't know exactly. He'll probably be in that [game]."

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