Powell adjusting to slot receiver for Gators

One of the first adjustments Jim McElwain made to the Florida offense was making Brandon Powell a full-time receiver.

This offseason has been all about learning for the sophomore. He spent most of his freshman year as a running back, but he ran more routes as the season ended. Without many trusted playmakers at the receiver position, the new Florida staff thought Powell would be a perfect fit in the slot.

So far, it looks like they’re right.

It has been a long offseason for Powell, trying to memorize every small detail that comes with running routes and getting open, but he’s excited to show what he has learned in the September 5 opener against New Mexico State.

“I’m still trying to get a little used to it,” Brandon Powell said. “It’s tough to come here in college and play a whole new position that you’ve never played before. I’m just still trying to get used to it, still a couple of things that I have to learn. I’m just still trying to take some time and learn it until you know the season starts.”

Powell knew immediately why the coaches thought he was a good fit at the position. He’s covered by a lot of safeties or linebackers while in the slot, and Powell’s explosive first step makes it tough for the slower defenders to keep up with him. As a part of a Florida offense desperately searching for playmakers, Powell is now set up for a big season because of what he can do with the football.

“Coaches always say ‘if you got a safety on you, you gotta win.’ That’s kind of what I take advantage of when I see a safety or linebacker lined up on me and I try to win,” Powell said.

With Powell in the slot and Demarcus Robinson on the outside, the Florida offense is beginning to find those difference makers on the edge. Add in creative offensive minds like McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, and things will look different when the Gators have the ball this season.

Even the Florida defensive players have picked on it. The Gators have a secondary recognized as one of the best in the country, and multiple players from that unit have commented about the difficulties of covering the Florida offense this year compared to last year.

Things are more multiple for the receivers. The new coaching staff brought more complex route trees but have simplified things enough that it doesn’t confuse the receivers learning how to run them.

“This year, it’s a lot of different routes than the little corner route or over route we were running last year every play,” Powell said. “Coach, he’s got a lot of good routes for us and plays that are going to kill some defenses this year. We’re just waiting to put it all together.”

Most of that for Powell will come out of the slot. However, he admitted that the coaches have been moving him around the different receiver spots to confuse the defense and keep them from being able to lock in on where he’ll be before the snap.

It’s not out of the question for him to still take some reps at running back. The depth at the position isn’t great and Powell’s familiarity with it could create an opportunity for him to get some touches out of the backfield.

“You’ll see come September 5,” Powell said with a grin. “They’ll have me all over the field.”

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