Brandon Powell vocalized what he wanted a week ago. He grew up a Florida State fan before heading to Gainesville. After losing his first three contests against his childhood team, Powell wanted so desperately to get a win, just once, over the Florida State Seminoles.
“It would mean everything to me,” Powell said of what a win over Florida State would mean.
The final score isn’t what Powell wanted. He’ll never know what it’s like to walk off the field victorious over Florida State but he went out the right way. The season was lost more than a month ago but you wouldn’t have known it by watching Brandon Powell.
“BP is a warrior,” Mark Thompson said of Powell. “One word I would use to describe him is grind, because he definitely grinds. I know he plays for his grandmother and his mom and his family. That says a lot about his character and a lot of things he went through this year. Obviously he persevered and I think perseverance is the key of life and he has that.”
Powell played the best football of his four-year career at Florida over the last month. After just 17 receptions in the first seven games he hauled in 25 catches for 258 yards and two scores over the last four games.
The senior receiver from Deerfield Beach finished his career with 131 catches. That’s 11th all-time at Florida, only two receptions behind Percy Harvin.
Powell’s career was a strenuous one. He was recruited as a running back but moved to receiver as a freshman. He enrolled early but needed foot surgery prior to his freshman season. He went through the surgery and missed just one game in 2014. He would never miss another game due to injury the rest of his career, despite another foot surgery and the need to have a special cleat to protect the surgically repaired foot.
Powell largely went unheralded throughout his career. He did the little things, extended drives with catches on third down, returned punts, whatever was asked of him. He sprung Antonio Callaway in 2015 to the touchdown that put Florida over the top of Tennessee and was a relentless, selfless blocker for his teammates for four seasons.
“He lead by example. He doesn’t talk, he just leads by example. His example is going out and playing the game hard,” interim head coach Randy Shannon said. “He played special teams for us. He know our limitations were as far as having the right numbers, but he wanted to be a part of special teams just to give us something, just to create things. Very proud of BP.”
He saved his best game for last on Saturday. Powell’s nine catches matched a career high and his two touchdowns were a career best. His first optimized his career. Powell, standing all of 5-9, went up and over a Florida State defensive back, hauling in the pass. He stayed down on the ground before trainers would hurry him to the locker room just before halftime. He came back and finished his career with a touchdown on the Gators’ final offensive drive of the game.
When all was lost and there was little left to play for in 2017 Powell played harder than anyone else in Orange and Blue. He finished his career with pride and integrity and that, along with what he did on the field, should be the lasting image fans have of him.