Future bright at Buck with Powell, Fowler


Florida's Dante Fowler, Jr., (6) and Gideon Ajagbe (25) go at it during a drill on the second of UF's two open spring football practice sessions on March 16.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, March 29, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 8:18 p.m.
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Florida's Dante Fowler, Jr., (6) and Gideon Ajagbe (25) go at it during a drill on the second of UF's two open spring football practice sessions on March 16.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
By all accounts, Ronald Powell is busting it big-time in rehab, doing everything he has to do, and more, to get himself ready for a 100-percent return to the Florida football team in August. While he's been making great progress and impressing the coaches with his effort in the training room and weight room, Dante Fowler Jr. apparently has been doing the same with his play on the practice field — at Powell's position. This, of course, begs the question: What happens when these two healthy bucks start locking horns in training camp competing for that same Buck position on the UF defense? It's one of those positive problems the coaches will be more than happy to deal with come August. “You're always saying, ‘What's your best combination with 11 guys on the field?' ” defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said Thursday. “That's a decision to make in the future when we see (Powell) and what he's doing. But with Ronald healthy and Dante healthy, they're both going to be in our top 11 guys.


“We'll do some things to make sure they're both out there and playing. The greatest thing to have as a coach is competition. It makes everyone better. Competition is worth a thousand words. “Those guys know and respect each other and know how good they are as players. They're going to make each other better, and they're going to make our team better. We'll figure all this stuff out as we get to it.” To have both Powell and Fowler on the field at the same time means one playing another position. Durkin said that's definitely doable because of their size and athletic ability. “There's a couple of different options,” Durkin said. “They can play end. They can play Sam linebacker. There's a couple of different ways we can do it within our scheme. “If both those guys are healthy, either way, you'll see both of them out there on the field playing for the Gators. That's for sure.” It has been a game-changing spring for both Powell and Fowler, according to Durkin. Powell is doing it in rehab, where is he recovering from his second ACL surgery in the past year. Fowler, a Freshman All-American in 2012, is doing it on the practice field, where he is building on his first-year accomplishments. “Ronald has been doing an unbelievable job,” Durkin said. “That guy is incredible with how relentless he is with his rehab. He has been through a tough time with having the ACL and then re-injuring it and going through that whole process again. “He does it. He brings it every day to his rehab and what he's doing.” Durkin said Powell is on schedule to be 100 percent for the start of camp in early August. “I know that's what he's shooting for, and we know it, too,” Durkin said. “That guy, it will be a great day for all of us that know Ronald and coach him or play with him when he's able to get back on the field, because we know how hungry he is.” Fowler apparently is pretty ravenous himself, the way he's been going at it this spring trying to take his game to another level. “Obviously, this is his first spring,” Durkin said. “He came to us late in the summer last year, so this is really his first kind of go-around. He went through winter conditioning and now spring ball. He's learned how we do things and train and all that. “He's an unbelievably gifted football player, and he's going to continue to get better and better. He's very coachable. He's always asking what else he can do, what he needs to do better. “He's a pleasure to coach. I think that guy has a really bright future ahead of him here.” It seems like a bright forecast for both Fowler and Powell — and for the Florida defense.

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