Notebook: Powell ahead of schedule


Ronald Powell may get a chance to see the playing field after all this upcoming season for the Gators.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 4:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 4:50 p.m.

DESTIN — Florida football coach Will Muschamp continues to hold out hope that junior defensive end/linebacker Ronald Powell will be playing for the Gators at some point in the upcoming season.

Powell injured his knee in the spring game and underwent ACL surgery April 23. The original diagnosis was Powell's rehab would take four to six months. Muschamp said at Tuesday's SEC Spring Meetings that Powell is ahead of schedule.

When asked if he thought Powell would be playing this season, Muschamp said, “I think so, I really do. I'm not betting against him. He's working extremely hard. His range of motion is ahead of where it should be. His strength levels are good. Everything really points good.”

Muschamp reiterated what he has said over the past month, that the final 30 percent of Powell's rehab will be the most critical in determining if he plays this year.

“That's the hard part, when you start cutting and putting weight on it,” Muschamp said. “Those are the things that will decide (when he returns). Our (medical people) do a great job. The surgery went well. I'm very pleased with how the surgery went.”

Ball on schedule to return

Muschamp said sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball, who underwent surgery to repair a ruptured blood vessel in his brain last summer, is close to being cleared to play this season.

“He's got one more appointment with the doctor,” Muschamp said. “I think he should be fine. He's in Gainesville.

“You never know, something might pop up at the end. But he's going back for one more deal to make sure he's really cleared. Our medical people would not clear him if they thought there was an issue of any sort.

“I totally trust their opinion. Nor would he want to play if there was any chance for anything happening.”

Muschamp said if Ball is cleared as expected, he will compete at the Buck position and at outside linebacker during camp in August.

Leonard working his way back

Muschamp said tight end A.C. Leonard, who is on probation after pleading no contest to a simple battery charge, still faces a suspension of some sort this season, but that he's making progress to get back in good standing with the team.

“He's still working through that,” Muschamp said. “He's got some things he continues to do. He's done everything I've asked him to do up to this point.

“It's still two months to go before we report to camp. I'll probably make a decision (on how many games Leonard will be suspended) in camp.

“He's got to continue to make good choices and decisions with regard to our football team. If he continues to do that, we'll handle it.”

Muschamp said Leonard was suspended from team activities in the spring, but that he was never suspended from the team.

“He's working out with our players. He's on our football team,” Muschamp said. “He was never not on our football team. He was suspended from team activities for a certain time and I did not allow him to play in the spring game.

“It's important to him because he likes football. He's handling some things for me.”

Spurrier pushing division records

Former Florida coach Steve Spurrier will make his argument this week why he thinks the division winners in football should be determined by records within the division instead of overall in the conference.

Georgia won last year's Eastern Division with what was considered a soft schdule that did not include the top three teams from the Western Division (Alabama, LSU and Arkansas).

“I'm personally in favor of just division games counting (in the division race),” Spurrier said. “I think several other people are, several others aren't.

“I was thinking about the most fair conference I was ever in was the ACC in 1987-89. I think we had only eight teams and everybody played each other. It was very simple. The team with the best record was the league champs.

“With these mega-conferences, everybody can't play everybody else. Sometimes scheduling might be the reason you win the division or even the conference championship.”

One coach who doesn't agree with Spurrier's proposal is Muschamp, whose team did play two of the top three teams from the West last season.

“I'm not for it,” Muschamp said. “I have a hard time losing to an Eastern Division team that loses two in the Western Division and they're going to play in the (conference) championship game.

“An SEC game is an SEC game to me. That's just the way I feel. I totally understand his frustration, but I think an SEC game needs to count for an SEC game. That's my opinion.”

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