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Florida LB Ronald Powell declares intention to enter NFL draft

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports
Linebacker Ronald Powell said deciding to leave Florida for the NFL was a difficult decision.

Florida linebacker Ronald Powell will enter the 2014 NFL Draft, according to a release from the school, marking the fourth player from the Gators' starting defense to leave the program for the pros.

This one, however, was the most unexpected.

Although Powell's history of knee injuries made his decision more understandable, his production for the Gators last year was inconsistent. He made just 26 tackles, although his skills as a pass rusher (four sacks, eight quarterback hurries) make the former five-star recruit an intriguing prospect.

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"This hasn't been an easy decision for him. I talked to him several times over the holidays, but it was important for him to come back and look me in the eye and tell me what he wanted to do and why he wanted to do it," said UF coach Will Muschamp. "It's one of the great experiences as a coach to watch young players mature. It's been well-documented the hardships he has had to overcome and he has always kept a positive attitude."

Powell (6-foot-4, 240 pounds) is a fourth-year junior. His statement was more revealing than the boilerplate comments typical of school releases.

"This hasn't been an easy decision because this is a tough place to walk away from -- but really you never walk away from being a Gator," Powell said. "I never thought it would be this hard to make this decision -- most people think it's easy -- go for the money."

Cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson have announced their intentions to enter the draft as well. Defensive tackle Dominique Easley decided to turn pro immediately after sustaining a season-ending knee injury in practice during the season.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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