By Nick de la Torre
In part six of our spring position battles series we take a look at the Buck linebacker. The loss of Ronald Powell was a seemingly devastating blow last season but the Gators were able to replace him with Lerentee McCray and Dante Fowler Jr.. Powell will be back this season and the Gators should be stronger and deeper than ever before at Buck.
Ronald Powell, R-Jr.
Powell was having arguably the most impressive offseason of any player on the roster before tearing his ACL during the spring game last year. Powell was given a very optimistic timetable to return from surgery but suffered a setback and ended up taking a medical redshirt.
Powell is a talented pass-rusher and if he can return to full health, should be the favorite to earn the starting role.
Bryan Cox Jr., R-Fr.
Cox was a member of the 2012 recruiting class but earned a redshirt last season.
A former 3-star rated player by ESPN, Cox excels as a run-stopper but has also shown some ability to get after the quarterback from the edge.
Dante Fowler Jr., So.
Fowler was a late addition to the 2012 recruiting class and Gator fans didn’t know what they had when he flipped his commitment from FSU.
Fowler was listed at 6’3” 236 lbs. in high school but showed up to Florida at 277 lbs. The added weight didn’t slow Fowler down and he had a fantastic freshman season. Fowler finished the season with 30 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, and 2.5 sacks. That was good enough to have Fowler named to the SEC Coaches All-Freshman team and the CBSSports.com Freshman All-American team.
This is going to be a serious battle during the offseason. While you never want a player to lose a starting position due to injury, Powell has some serious competition in Fowler.
Powell was productive as a sophomore, compiling 32 tackles, 9 for a loss including six sacks. He is a dynamic edge pass-rusher but so is Fowler. This competition should be one of the most tightly contested position battles this offseason but the Gators can’t go wrong with either player.