Florida linebacker Ronald Powell to forgo senior year for NFL Draft

Florida defensive lineman/linebacker Ronald Powell led the Gators with four sacks, had eight quarterback hurries and was second on the team with seven tackles-for-loss in 2013.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida defensive lineman/linebacker Ronald Powell announced on Monday that he will forego his final year of eligibility with the Gators’ football program and enter the 2014 NFL Draft.

"Ronald has informed me that he has made a decision to declare for the NFL Draft," said head coach Will Muschamp. "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."

Leaving early

Powell, who missed the 2012 season due to injury, returned to full strength in 2013 and played in 11 games with eight starts. He led the team with four sacks and had eight quarterback hurries and was second on the team with seven tackles-for-loss. In his career with the Gators, Powell totaled 84 tackles with 19 tackles-for-loss and 11 sacks.

"I want to thank the entire Gator Nation for making a kid from California a part of their family," said Powell. "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 — most 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 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.

"I wouldn’t trade anything I’ve experienced because they have all helped me grow. I will miss running out of the tunnel into The Swamp and all of the tradition and great rivalries. It has been an honor to be a part of Gator history and I will always represent The Gator Nation and bleed Orange and Blue. Thanks again to everyone and much love for The Gator Nation. Once a Gator, always a Gator! Go Gators!"

Powell is the third Gator to declare early for the 2014 Draft,€“ joining defensive backs Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson.