Gators send intriguing trio to SEC Media Days

There were two obvious candidates that would represent Florida next week in Hoover, but the third one was questionable before the league announced it on Wednesday.

The Gators will bring Jonathan Bullard, Vernon Hargreaves III and Brandon Powell to accompany head coach Jim McElwain next week in Hoover.

Bullard was an easy choice. The senior decided to return for his senior season at Florida to boost his NFL Draft stock, but he’s also part of a new initiative at SEC Media Days. The league wanted every school to send one player with a compelling story to tell. For Bullard, it’s his relationship with his grandmother, who played a big part in raising him. She saw Bullard play as a freshman but passed away during his sophomore year.

Bullard will be an important part of the Florida defense this season, anchoring a defensive line that has to replace the pass rush of No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler. He was third on the team with 8.5 tackles for a loss last season and second on the team with 12 quarterback hurries.

Hargreaves was the ultimate no-brainer for Florida. The All-American cornerback led the team with 13 pass breakups last season and has six interceptions during his first two seasons. Three of those interceptions came in the first four games of his college career. Hargreaves was a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award last year and named a first team All-American by three outlets.

Powell is the interesting choice.

Schools like to bring members from both sides of the football, and Bullard and Hargreaves made the most sense from the defensive side. There were offensive options like wide receiver Demarcus Robinson and running back Kelvin Taylor, but the staff electing to go with an up-and-comer in Powell.

Last season at running back, Powell had 70 rushing yards and 147 receiving yards. He spent the last few games of the year seeing time mostly as a slot receiver, and McElwain and the staff decided to make him a full-time slot receiver for spring practice. He looked comfortable and smooth at the position during the portions of open practice, creating problems in the slot with his speed and route running.

The decision to bring Powell wouldn’t be made if the staff didn’t think the sophomore could be in for a big season. He showed why during the spring and in flashes last season. If there was any hesitation or question marks from the staff about whether Powell could handle it, it’s not likely that he would have been chosen to represent the program in Hoover.


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