Powell eager to complete ACL recovery


UF linebacker Ronald Powell has had Florida's Aug. 31 season opener against Toledo circled on his calendar for a long time now.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 10:45 p.m.

Ever since he was cleared to practice earlier this summer, big things have been expected from Ronald Powell, the former national high school player of the year.

But to reach that point this season, everyone knew the Florida defensive end/linebacker — and his twice surgically repaired knee — would have to make many crucial steps along the way.

First, he would have to survive those first sharp, full-speed cuts in camp.

Next, how would his knee hold up once the full contact begin? Could his knee take a hit?

Then, would the knee be strong enough to stand up to the long, hot, exhausting days of August?

The ultimate goal for Powell was to make it to Aug. 31, the opening game against Toledo, feeling strong, healthy and confident.

Well, he’s almost there now. With the season now within reach (less than two weeks away), he has successfully made everyone of those critical steps and is ready to play some football again after missing the 2012 season.

“Everything’s been good, everything’s been coming along great,” Powell said Tuesday. “It’s great to be back with the team.

“Just the feeling of running out in The Swamp again (in practice) has been awesome. It’s getting closer and closer, and I can feel it. It’s going to happen for me.”

Powell said his knee feels good and he has not been physically limited in practice. He said the coaches and trainers have worked out a daily practice regimen for him that has helped make the comeback possible.

“It’s been good,” Powell said. “Our coaching staff has done a great job doing the right things for me, limiting reps. The training staff is working with me everyday, doing the little things that I have to do. It’s been awesome. It’s been smooth for me.”

Before he tore his ACL (for the first time) in the 2012 spring game, Powell seemed set to possibly emerge as one of the SEC’s elite defensive players. After going through the surgery and months of rehab, Powell expected to return fairly early last season, but then he re-tore the same ACL and had to undergo a second surgery.

Given the double devastation to his knee, some wondered if he could make it back for the start of the 2013 season. Now, he’s only a few days and practices away from being there.

He said other than still being a little rusty with some of his technique, he feels he’s the same player he was before he was injured.

“Yeah, I do feel that,” he said. “Not as far as everything, but I feel I’m moving fast, moving as well as anyone out there. The little things … technique-wise and keeping my feet moving and hand placement, I have to remind myself.

“Other than that, I’m out there with the rest of the guys. I’ve gone through as much as anybody else.”

Powell was asked if he was OK mentally concerning his knee.

“I’m here,” he said.

Powell said he’s looking forward to getting after opposing quarterbacks this season with Buck linebacker/end Dante Fowler Jr.

“Me and Dante, (No.) 6 and 7, man, 6 and 7 off edge,” Powell said. “A lot of getting to the QB.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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