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Florida DE Ronald Powell out 4-6 months with ACL tear

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

This was supposed to be the season Florida defensive end Ronald Powell -- the former consensus No. 1 recruit in the country -- lived up to his immense potential and began straight-up wrecking fools, as the kids say. But if that's going to happen, Powell's going to have to overcome a major injury setback that could cost him the entire 2012 season.

The Gators announced Monday that Powell suffered a torn ACL in the team's spring game Saturday and will be out somewhere between four and six months, an estimate that could delay his return as deep into the season as October. Will Muschamp told the media following the game that Powell had left with what he called a "knee sprain," but an MRI later showed the ligament to be torn.

Powell's absence could be a huge blow to the Gator defensive line, and will be an even bigger one if Muschamp ultimately decides to redshirt the five-star crown jewel of Urban Meyer's much-lauded (and to this point, largely disappointing) 2010 recruiting class. Powell not only led the 2011 Gators in sacks with six, he picked up three more than any other returning Gator. Among current members of the Florida roster, Powell also finished third in tackles-for-loss with nine--and both of those numbers were expected to take another large step forward as Powell further developed his technique and grew more comfortable in his second year with Muschamp's defensive schemes.

Per Orlando Sentinel reporter Rachel George:

Among the immediate candidates to fill the Powell-shaped hole on the end of the line are sophomore Gideon Ajagbe and senior Earl Okine. But with those two combining for just one tackle-for-loss and no sacks last year, Muschamp is likely to have to get creative, and linebackers like Jelani Jenkins will no doubt have to take on more of a pass-rushing burden.

Muschamp is creative enough -- and the Gator line is deep enough across the board -- that the unit that finished eighth in the FBS in total defense in their head coach's first season still won't miss too many beats. But with the Gator offense still a work in progress, even a handful of missed beats on third-and-long vs. Georgia or South Carolina could be the difference between a trip to Atlanta and another six-loss disappointment.

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