Ronald Powell came to Florida the No. 1 player in the country. He was supposed to be many things; All-SEC, All-American among others before two ACL surgeries derailed his career. Powell put up respectable numbers but never lived up to the No. 1 billing that was placed on him in high school.
“I never thought it was destined for me. Even coming out of high school and being the No. 1 player in the country. I never asked for that,” Powell said. “I just listened to the good people around me, kept my work ethic and kept God on my side and I just took it step-by-step and I ended up in that place. I always attack myself every day, whatever the case is, I attack myself every day, I want to be better than myself every day.”
Still, Powell earned an invitation to the NFL Combine and put up good numbers, including a 4.65 40-yard dash, making him the fourth-fastest linebacker at the combine. He injured his hamstring while running his second 40 and didn’t participate in position drills in Indianapolis because of it.
He got the opportunity to run through those drills in front of scouts from all 32 NFL teams on Monday at Florida’s annual pro day. The weather was less than ideal but it didn’t bother the athletic linebacker.
“Never, never, never,” Powell responded when asked if the soggy weather affected him today. “This is what we go through in the Swamp. It can be 100 degrees and it starts raining, we just go.”
Powell elected to stick with his 40-yard dash time from the combine but was able to increase his reps on the bench press from 21 to 25. He worked out on the field — just three weeks after pulling his hamstring — and was excited about the opportunity for NFL scouts to see him bounce back.
“Coming off of a hamstring, being able to do these position drills and being able to show that to all the scouts was big for me,” he said. “I kind of wasn’t sure how that was going to come out, with my hamstring [injury] being three weeks ago.”
Powell — who has been training in California — hadn’t been back to Florida since leaving to begin preparing for the draft. He reveled in the chance to get back out with the people he calls his “brothers for life” and was shouting words of encouragement while the rest of the Gators went through their own positional drills.
It’s the experiences — two ACL injuries — and the people that he cheered on today that have helped Powell grow from a high school kid into the man that he is today.
As the day wrapped up, a sweaty Powell stood in the rain to answer questions from reporters. He was his normal cool, collected self until one asked what he would miss most about Gainesville and the University of Florida. Powell took a second, his voice cracked before he cleared his throat, clearly getting emotional when thinking back on his time as a Gator.
“To tell you the truth, I miss everything about this place right now,” he said. “It’s not an easy place to leave and it’s definitely some place that’s in my heart. I can’t tell you what I won’t miss about this place because right now I’m missing a whole lot of things.”