The Florida Gators’ best spring performer may not return to the team until late in the fall as junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament after injuring his left knee in the 2012 Orange & Blue Debut on Saturday.
Head coach Will Muschamp said after the scrimmage that Powell had just sprained his knee and would be fine, but a MRI on the knee obviously revealed more extensive damage. He will be sidelined at least 4-6 months following surgery with his rehabilitation determining his return to the field. Many ACL tears take longer to recover from meaning Powell’s absence could drag on for the majority of the season.
“Ronald is in good spirits and is very eager to do whatever is necessary to have a healthy, speedy recovery,” Muschamp told GatorZone.com‘s Scott Carter on Monday. “He has already started with prehab and once the swelling goes down and he regains his range of motion, he will have the surgery.”
Powell is the second Gators defender to tear his ACL in recent months as junior defensive tackle Dominique Easley went down with the same injury in the team’s 2011 regular season finale against Florida State. Powell and Easley were both five-star players who joined the program as part of UF’s top-ranked 2010 recruiting class. Coaches and trainers expect Easley to return to the team for practice this summer.
Replacing Powell at Buck linebacker will be difficult task for Florida. The most important position on Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s defense, the Buck is expected to be a playmaking linebacker who dominates all over the field. Powell was finally learning what it took to play the position well before being derailed on Saturday.
Redshirt senior Lerentee McCray could move over from Sam linebacker to fill Powell’s shoes. Sophomore Gideon Ajagbe is the only other listed “Buck linebacker” on the roster though incoming freshman Dante Fowler, Jr. will be as well once he enrolls. Junior Darrin Kitchens and perhaps even freshman Antonio Morrison could also get an opportunity at the position.