It had been 644 days since Roland Powell was last able to put on that orange helmet with the “Gators” script on each side and run out onto Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadiums. That day, Powell had five tackles, one forced fumble and one sack in a 21-7 home loss to Florida State.
“I was unfortunate last year,” Powell said. “So I didn’t get a chance to play or be on the field with those guys last year.”
When Powell initially went down with an ACL injury during the 2012 Orange and Blue Debut, he was given an optimistic timetable of 4-to-6 months to return. He had surgery, began rehabbing every day and had the LSU game last season circled as his return date. Powell suffered a set back and had to have another surgery, effectively ending his season.
Powell watched from the sidelines for the rest of the year, while his teammates, or “brothers” as he likes to call them, had the most successful season in Gainesville since 2010.
“Not being able to do those things that I wanted to do, like run out in The Swamp with them and go out and be productive with those guys, you miss the little things,” Powell said this offseason. “Like when you see your guys make a play and they’re jumping up in the air together, you’re on the sideline and don’t have that. For so many years, I’ve had that. When you lose that, it’s something you struggle with.”
During this trying time in his life, Powell turned to his faith to get him though the past year.
“My faith was definitely number one. A lot of times, I had to sit, get in my word and read my Bible,” Powell said. “I leaned on the Lord and knew that whatever God has going for me and whatever He has in store for me, it’s for me to come out on top and in His way.”
As his knee healed, Powell turned his sights on Saturday, August 31, 2012. The day where he would finally get the opportunity to rejoin his teammates on Florida Field and represent the University of Florida playing in the game he loves.
He worked tirelessly in the weight room, on the field and off the field to get himself into football shape. He sat out the spring for precautionary reasons but was able to participate in fall camp. Will Muschamp said that he had to hold Powell back somewhat in camp because Powell wanted to go 100-miles-per-hour and he needed Powell to be healthy for the entire season.
The more than 600 days away from football changed Powell’s entire outlook on the game and his experiences at Florida.
“It’s an appreciation, I appreciate it so much more man.” Powell said. “I take it as an opportunity that I am given to go out there and play in front of all those people. The support that they have, it’s a different feel for me.”