Florida Gators linebacker Ronald Powell on Monday became the third junior to choose to forego his final season of eligibility and declare for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Powell, who missed the entire 2012 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during spring practice and re-tearing the same ACL while trying to get back on the field mid-year, started eight of Florida’s 11 games in 2013 and led the Gators with four sacks.
“Ronald has informed me that he has made a decision to declare for the NFL Draft,” said head coach Will Muschamp in a school release. “This hasn’t been an easy decision for him. I talked to him several times over the holidays, but it was important for him to come back and look me in the eye and tell me what he wanted to do and why he wanted to do it. It’s one of the great experiences as a coach to watch young players mature. It’s been well documented the hardships he has had to overcome and he has always kept a positive attitude. I wish him the best of luck and, as I’ve said before, I encouraged him to return to get his degree.”
The former No. 1 overall recruit in the nation, Powell was a five-star prospect coming out of high school when he initially committed to head coach Urban Meyer, who convinced him to play college football across the country from his native California.
He has amassed 11 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and 84 total tackles over his three seasons of action, never living up to the hype of his pre-college billing in large part due to changes to the coaching staff and injury issues.
Powell released a heartfelt message via Florida explaining his departure.
“I want to thank the entire Gator Nation for making a kid from California a part of their family,” he said.. “It’s hard to put into words what this whole experience has been for me. I’ve had so many opportunities and met so many people. All of them have been supportive and helpful in my time here. Because of that, I’ve had a chance to grow and mature into the man I am today and the man I am going to become in the future.
“This hasn’t been an easy decision because this is a tough place to walk away from – but really you never walk away from being a Gator. I never thought it would be this hard to make this decision – most people think it’s easy – go for the money. It’s hard to leave my brothers behind, but we’ve shared so much more than our time on the field. We’ve lived our lives together and we are truly a family. This place has so many memories that I will carry forever and I will never forget my coaches, teammates, trainers, strength staff, professors and the entire support staff that helped me during my time here.
“I wouldn’t trade anything I’ve experienced because they have all helped me grow. I will miss running out of the tunnel into The Swamp and all of the tradition and great rivalries. It has been an honor to be a part of Gator history and I will always represent The Gator Nation and bleed Orange and Blue. Thanks again to everyone and much love for The Gator Nation. Once a Gator, Always a Gator! Go Gators!”
Powell joins junior cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson as the third Gators junior to declare for the draft. Senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley, who tore his ACL and medial meniscus, could have received a medical redshirt and returned for a fifth season but decided to enter the league instead.