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Gators running back Brandon Powell rushed for more than 1,300 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior.

Sunday February 2, 2014Powell Feels at Home after Taking U-Turn up I-95

Gators running back Brandon Powell rushed for more than 1,300 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER Senior Writer

Florida freshman running back Brandon Powell adds speed to the Gators' backfield.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Brandon Powell explored all his options.

The speedy running back out of Deerfield Beach High in South Florida had plenty to consider.

Tennessee, Nebraska and West Virginia were in the mix. But most expected Powell to stay close to home after he verbally committed to Miami.

And then a couple of days before Powell was scheduled to enroll at Miami, Gators coach Will Muschamp called his high school coach to offer a scholarship.

Brandon Powell

Instead of driving south on I-95, Powell headed north toward Gainesville and is one of nine early enrollees for the Gators this spring.

His decision provided endless fodder on the recruiting websites for a couple of days, but for Powell, it all made perfect sense.

"I just felt more comfortable here,'' he said. "I had been here my sophomore year and after that, [former UF receivers coach] Aubrey Hill, he left, and things kind of slowed down with Florida.

"But once they came back and offered me, I was like, 'yeah, Florida's the place to be.' I wanted to get away from home a little bit. It's not that far from home but far enough."

The reason the Gators and others pursued Powell is because when he touches the football, something good usually happens.

As a senior, Powell rushed for more than 1,300 yards and 20 touchdowns. He added 21 catches and returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns, earning Player of the Year honors in Broward County, a pot of gold for college recruiters.

Listed at 5-foot-8 and 167 pounds, Powell wants to make use of arriving early on campus.

"They had a bad a season,'' Powell said. "I just saw that as a great opportunity to come in and help somebody, a program that is trying to get back to how they used to be."

Powell comes from an athletic family familiar with life as a college football player. His father, Brian, played receiver at Memphis.

Still, the recruiting process is different today. There is a lot more attention. Powell tried to keep everything in perspective, even in those final days prior to coming to UF when the spotlight was brightest.

"I just learned you have to stay humble,'' he said. "Everybody is saying you're this player and that player. Everybody is calling you great, but you are the only person that knows yourself. Stay humble and keep working -- and that's what got me here."

Another factor in Powell's decision was Florida's hiring of Kurt Roper to be offensive coordinator.

Roper and Duke running backs coach Re'quan Boyette recruited Powell heavily at Duke. Powell was familiar with Roper's offensive philosophy when Muschamp called to offer that scholarship.

"He likes speed. He gets people the ball,'' Powell said. "When he came here running that spread offense, that's what fit me. It was easy to make that decision."


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