Praise for Powell from Tennessee linemen


Florida defender Ronald Powell is blocked by Tennessee offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Sept. 17, 2011 in Gainesville. James said Wednesday at SEC Media Days that he expects Powell to bounce back from his ACL injury this season.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 4:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 4:54 p.m.

HOOVER, Ala. — Ronald Powell is not at SEC Media Days but he certainly received a lot of love Wednesday.

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Florida defender Ronald Powell is blocked by Tennessee offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Sept. 17, 2011 in Gainesville. James said Wednesday at SEC Media Days that he expects Powell to bounce back from his ACL injury this season.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer

Two Tennessee offensive tackles — senior Ja'Wuan James and junior Antonio “Tiny” Richardson — mentioned the Florida defender when they were asked about defensive ends in the SEC.

Powell hasn't played since 2011 after tearing his ACL the following spring.

“The guys I look forward to playing against are Jadeveon Clowney and Ronald Powell,” said Richardson.

Richardson dominated Clowney in last year's game except for one sack that Richardson watches every week to get motivated. Clowney is considered the best defensive end in the nation and probable No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.

But Powell?

“He's a great player,” Richardson said. “I think a lot of people went to sleep on him because he tore his ACL, but I think he's going to have a great season. He's one of the guys I'm excited to play against.”

When asked about the best defensive ends he's gone up against, James offered up Clowney, LSU's Barkevious Mingo and Powell.

“Ronald Powell, he's going to bounce back,” James said.

Powell was considered one of the top prospects in the nation when he signed with Florida and led the team with six sacks in 2011. Coaches raved about how well he was playing in the spring of 2012 when he hurt his knee in the spring game.

The Buck linebacker was supposed to get back onto the field sometime during the 2012 season, but had a setback with his knee and was shut down.

Powell had an impact on the two games he played against Tennessee. In 2010, he had a sack, and in 2011 he had a half sack and two quarterback hurries.

Plus, Tennessee's players probably have Florida on their minds because of their eight-game losing streak to the Gators. Florida hasn't lost to the Vols since Ron Zook was the coach.

New coach Butch Jones knows that one step he needs to take is to find a way to beat the Gators. The two teams play in The Swamp on Sept. 21 on CBS.

“I hear it all the time,” Jones said. “I'm reminded of that quite a bit. For us to make those rivalry games, we have to become relevant and win those games.”

Florida has won the eight straight games by a combined score of 250-126.

“We go in expecting to win every year,” Richardson said. “It's very important. We have a lot of rivals, but they're our biggest one.”

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