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UF Roster Shuffle: Powell Back, Leonard Out, And Phillips Likely To UT

The Florida roster is seeing some ebb and flow today.  During his morning presser, Will Muschamp said that defensive lineman Ronald Powell is already partially back from an ACL tear in the spring and has already been cleared to do some running drills.  Though Muschamp wouldn’t give a date, he did say Powell would play at some point in the season.

The coach also announced that tight end AC Leonard — who pled no contest in April to a domestic battery charge for allegedly dragging his girlfriend by her hair and tossing her out of his domicile — will not return.  Leonard will transfer to another school.  The player was also cited in may for driving on a suspended license.

Meanwhile, four-star defensive line signee Dante Phillips is apparently set to join Tennessee’s roster.  Phillips was inked by the Gators in February and cleared by the NCAA, but earlier this month he was denied admission to the University of Florida.  His new twitter name is “knoxville bound.”

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Linebacker Depth Yet Another Question Mark At UF

When it comes to recent SEC history, defensive coordinators entering their second year at a school can expect their troops to perform better than in their debut seasons in a new system.  From Nick Saban to Todd Grantham and more, the second year usually shows a nice jump.  That should be reassuring to Florida fans who are wondering what Dan Quinn and Will Muschamp — it’s his system after all — can pull out of their hats this fall.

When it comes to linebacker, Rachel George of The Orlando Sentinel says two players have emerged as “the heart of the group.”  Senior Jonathan Bostic and junior Jelani Jenkins both had solid 2011s and are expected to be as good or better in 2012.

But what about the third starting linebacker and beyond?


“After Bostic and Jenkins, the Gators are slim.  Lerentee McCray earned the starting spot at strongside linebacker last year but missed time because of a shoulder injury. He’ll be one of the players counted on to replace Ronald Powell at the Buck position while he recovers from ACL surgery. Mike Taylor wasn’t as productive as coaches had hoped for last season, and Graham Stewart transferred this month after one season at Florida.”


Florida — like most of the SEC East’s teams beyond Georgia and South Carolina — is a tough squad to read.  There is talent, but much of it is young.  It’s the second year of Muschamp’s reign, but there are still some Urban Meyer guys running around (but hopefully not running amok) on campus.

While the D-line is experienced, question marks remain at quarterback, running back, defensive back and linebacker depth.

If it all comes together, the Gators could surprise.  If not, Muschamp could be looking at a hot-seat year in 2013.

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UF’s Powell Out 4-6 Months With Torn ACL

Bad news from Gainesville today where it’s been confirmed that starting linebacker Ronald Powell will be out for four to six months with a torn ACL.  Powell — a junior — injured his knee during the Gators’ spring game on Saturday.

He will not undergo surgery until swelling around the knee goes down.  If the injury and surgery require six months of recovery, Powell could miss the early portion of Florida’s season.  His backup at the “buck” linebacker position is Lerentee McCray, but McCray was held out of spring practice with a shoulder injury.

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UF’s Muschamp Suggests Bama’s Just Another Game

The theme for the week in Gainesville will be normalcy as undefeated Florida prepares for a visit from undefeated Alabama.  At least that will be the case if Will Muschamp has his way.

But in reality, you can expect stories about Muschamp’s supposed rift with ex-boss Nick Saban and Saban’s alleged ugly comments to Muschamp’s mom.  The sideshow will be about revenge, bitterness and anything else we in the press can dig up.  But the real show — according to UF’s first-year coach — will be a football game.  And the Gators plan to go about business as usual:

“We just worry about Florida.  Really, at the end of the day, we’re going to take care of the University of Florida.  We’re going to be fine versus everybody we play.  Starting with Alabama. … They’ve got a good football team. We need to prepare the same way we’ve prepared earlier in the year.  Each week make sure your preparation is your motivation in what you do.  Prepare well for the game, and, we’ll play well.  The same sort of preparation.  They all count for one.  Alabama’s got a good football team, but so do we.”

Blah.  Boring.  Bland.  That may frustrate the heck out of the folks doing talk radio, but Muschamp has even beaten that message into his players’ heads.  On Saturday after UF’s win over Kentucky, sophomore Ronald Powell referred to Alabama as “another nameless, faceless opponent.”

Maybe that’s what Saban his Crimson Tide are for Muschamp and crew — just another game.  But to be safe, the Gator coach may want to make his parents off-limits to the press this week.

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SEC Headlines – 4/7/11 Part One

1.  Billy Donovan says the journey from mountain top to valley and back to mountain top has been “extremely rewarding.”

2.  Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus will head to the NBA’s top pre-draft camp, but Chandler Parsons will not.

3.  The roundball Gators will be more guard-heavy in 2011-12.

4.  Florida defensive end Ronald Powell — the nation’s top prospect in 2010 — is looking for a fresh start with UF’s new coaching staff. 

5.  Mark Fox says he doesn’t want anyone to think he’s leaving because Georgia “is where I’m going to coach.”

6.  Stephen Garcia’s issues at South Carolina could be good news for the Bulldogs.

7.  New Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter is ready to do some teaching.

8.  Defensive end Nermin Delic will miss eight weeks after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia.

9.  A lot of folks think John Calipari’s next squad should enter the season #1 next year… but not this Lexington writer.

10.  Here’s more on Garcia’s latest suspension.

11.  Steve Spurrier says his young quarterbacks would be playing a lot in Saturday’s spring game anyway.

12.  If this was the last straw for the Carolina quarterback, he has no one to blame but himself.

13.  Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney wants Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray to “keep growing up as a player.”

14.  The Vols are shuffling their defensive linemen looking for the best combination.

15.  UT’s coaches don’t want Michael Palardy handling field goal, kickoff and punting duties for UT this fall.

16.  Vanderbilt’s deal to play at Ohio State was actually inked before James Franklin took over as coach.

17.  Franklin is trying to teach his “big, tall, physical wideouts” to go get the ball when its in the air.

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