SAN ANTONIO - Five-star defensive end Ronald Powell is headed to Florida, the Gators pulling a major coup by beating USC for one of the best players in its own backyard.
Powell announced his decision Saturday at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and it's a huge pickup for Florida, which had made the Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde standout a top priority for a long time.
Even with coach Urban Meyer's status unresolved - Meyer will soon take an indefinite leave of absence because of unknown health issues - Powell felt comfortable enough to commit to the Gators.
"There was a point in time where that was a let down," Powell said of Meyer's health status early this week. "I got a chance to talk to him and see where everything was at. It was more than Urban Meyer on why I decided to consider Florida. Just like USC, there's more to USC than just Pete Carroll. I'm deciding on those two universities.
"(Meyer) told me what he was telling everybody else, that he's not going anywhere, he's going to be a Gator. He said there are little health issues and a little stressing and other than that he's going to be a Gator."
Rivals.com rates Powell as the best weakside defensive end, the top player in the California state rankings and No. 5 in the 2010 class. Powell has been so impressive at times this week that there is at least some discussion that he can move up even further on the list.
"Not only is he a tremendous overall athlete with great body structure, he can play either strongside or weakside eventually," Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barry Every said. "That's what I like about him. Everybody is going to say he's definitely a weakside guy because he's so fast off the edge, but he's strong and he has a frame where he's going to get bigger.
"He can be an interchangeable defensive end. I don't think there's any doubt, barring injury or just him not wanting it, that he won't be in the NFL ... Speed, size, ability, everything is outstanding from a physical standpoint."