Florida linebacker-end Ronald Powell announced Monday he will join cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson as juniors leaving early for the NFL.
“Ronald has informed me that he has made a decision to declare for the NFL Draft,”’ Gators coach Will Muschamp said. “This hasn’t been an easy decision for him. I talked to him several times over the holidays, but it was important for him to come back and look me in the eye and tell me what he wanted to do and why he wanted to do it.
“It’s one of the great experiences as a coach to watch young players mature. It’s been well documented the hardships he has had to overcome and he has always kept a positive attitude. I wish him the best of luck and, as I’ve said before, I encouraged him to return to get his degree.’”
Powell, rated the nation’s No. 1 recruit out of high school, missed the 2012 season with a knee injury but returned to have a solid year this past season with a team-high four sacks. He had 11 sacks in his career.
He played in 11 games with eight starts and was also second on the team with seven tackles for loss.
“I want to thank the entire Gator Nation for making a kid from California a part of their family,” Powell said in a statement. “It’s hard to put into words what this whole experience has been for me. I’ve had so many opportunities and met so many people. All of them have been supportive and helpful in my time here. Because of that, I’ve had a chance to grow and mature into the man I am today and the man I am going to become in the future.
“This hasn’t been an easy decision because this is a tough place to walk away from, but really you never walk away from being a Gator. I never thought it would be this hard to make this decision. Mpst people think it’s easy — go for the money. It’s hard to leave my brothers behind, but we’ve shared so much more than our time on the field. We’ve lived our lives together and we are truly a family.
“This place has so many memories,” Powell said, “that I will carry forever and I will never forget my coaches, teammates, trainers, strength staff, professors and the entire support staff that helped me during my time here.’’