The No. 1 overall prospect in the 2010 recruiting class, Ronald Powell, may be a forgotten man. After all, he didn’t see the field in 2012 for the Gators because of a knee injury he suffered in the spring game last April.
Just about the time Powell looked to be finally breaking out and coming into to his own, he injured his knee. And not only did he tear his ACL and have surgery, he had a second surgery last October to repair another ‘little bit of a tear’, according to Will Muschamp.
With the No. 1 overall prospect ranking comes high expectations and anticipation. And for much of the first two years, Powell just didn’t look like he was going to live up to it. He made little to no impact his freshman season. After all, there was no real position for Powell in Urban Meyer’s defense, and he wasn’t being used correctly. There were rumors of Powell’s discontentment throughout the season and on into Meyer’s resignation.
However, towards the second half of his sophomore season in 2011 under Muschamp, Powell looked to be breaking into an impact player as a Buck linebacker, a hybrid defensive end/linebacker position. (It’s just another sexy name for a hybrid position). He tallied 32 tackles, including nine for loss, with six sacks.
And with Powell budding as a player in the latter part of the season, his leadership was developing, too. There was much talk about Powell during spring practice last year and how he was developing as a player off the field.
Then defensive coordinator Dan Quinn thought Powell had a great spring and could have had an impact like Jadeveon Clowney or Barkevious Mingo.
“I really thought Ronald this spring had a terrific spring. Each practice you kind of saw him grow and take steps forward. It is going to be important for him to take that step because I really do feel like, yeah, he would have been mentioned with those guys. The improvement from last fall through the spring, it was really significant for Ronald.”
Now the stage is set for Powell to make a much-needed return to the Gators’ defense. And despite Florida’s arguably top-ranked defense last year, there was an obvious lack of a pass rusher. With the trio of Sharrif Floyd, Lerentee McCray and Omar Hunter gone on the defensive line, along with two linebackers in Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins, the time is now for Powell to live up to expectation and the hype of his physically superior ceiling.
Just in the last two seasons, Florida has signed eight defensive linemen, including budding superstars Dante Fowler and Jonathan Bullard, and seven linebackers. Combine these 15 with the addition of Ronald Powell and the return of Dominique Easley, and Florida should control the line of scrimmage and have one of the strongest front sevens in the SEC.
The return of Ronald Powell could hold a primary key to how good this unit will be in 2013.
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