Florida Football: What Ronald Powell's Injury Means for the Gators' LB Depth

Blake SilversAnalyst IIIApril 10, 2012

GAINESVILLE, FL - APRIL 9:  Linebacker Ronald Powell #7 of the Florida Gators signs an autograph before the Orange and Blue spring football game April 9, 2011 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Junior linebacker Ronald Powell had emerged from spring practice as Florida's leading rover (or "Buck"), and had been one of the Gators' most experienced players at the linebacker position.  

An ACL injury in Saturday's spring game may end up costing the California native most of the 2012 season with a recovery that could take up to six months, according to a report in The Gainesville Sun on Monday.

In what was originally thought to be just a sprain, an MRI made apparent that there was significant damage to the knee, which can't be operated on until some swelling goes down.   

So where do the Gators go from here?

Florida's two-deep chart from spring practice shows Powell and Gideon Ajagbe at the rover position. Ironically, Ajagbe, a sophomore, had to redshirt for the 2010 season with a rotator cuff injury he also suffered during camp, but played in four games last year including some special teams work.  

One obvious candidate to step up at the position, besides Ajagbe, would be Lerentee McCray, a junior with 30 games and five starts under his belt. McCray has played some at the rover position, but is currently listed as a defensive end.  

Another contender to fill in for Powell would be freshman Dante Fowler, a 4-star recruit out of Lakewood, whose decision to become a Gator instead of a Seminole in hopes of earlier playing time may have turned out to be a wise one if he can perform in summer camp.  

With Powell out until September at the earliest, someone will need to step up into the vital role by the time the season starts.