Brandon Powell is a 5-9, 185-pound sophomore with just 31 career touches.
He has played running back his entire career but transitioned to receiver this spring and then sat out the final two weeks of camp with a foot injury.
Still, the former Deerfield Beach standout served as Florida’s lone offensive representative during Monday’s 2015 SEC Media Days because he’s a potential X factor in an offense desperate for one.
Sporting a fresh haircut and stylish suit, the sophomore spoke softly but was undeterred by the burden of newfound expectations.
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The Gators’ offense, a joke without a punchline the past four seasons, needs a spark — and Powell represents the future in new coach Jim McElwain’s reconstruction.
Powell tallied just 217 total yards in limited opportunities last season, but McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier see a tantalizing talent who was misused by the previous coaching staff.
Now, the sky is the limit, Powell optimistically predicted.
“We’re trying to make the offense this year something big in Florida history,” he said, grinning.
“If we just execute everything that we have to do we can put up as many points as the old Florida teams used to.”
Still, despite similar declarations from past players, McElwain represented Florida in Hoover because former coach Will Muschamp presided over an attack that ranked in the bottom 20 nationally on an annual basis.
McElwain was peppered with questions about resurrecting an offense — and program — but he tempered 2015 championship expectations and an immediate overhaul.
“I think part of the experience of being in this conference is realizing it doesn’t happen just overnight,” said McElwain, who won two national titles as Alabama’s offensive coordinator from 2008-11.
“It’s something that we know. And yet every time we go to work every day, every time we wake up, our responsibility is to try to go out there and win. There’s never been a game that we haven’t been in that we don’t think we’re going to go out and be successful, and that’s really what it’s all about. We’ve got a ways to go, and yet there are some good things in place.”
Namely, a loaded defense and playmakers such as Powell and wideout Demarcus Robinson, tight end Jake McGee and tailback Kelvin Taylor, who are all expected to carry a unit with considerable question marks at quarterback and offensive line.
McElwain envisions Powell’s role as a hybrid receiver/running back with the versatility to confuse a defense — much in the same vein as former UF star Percy Harvin.
“He’s an X factor,” McElwain said. “[Powell] has really accepted what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to get him involved.”
That’s encouraging for Powell, especially after last season.
“I heard it every week, ‘We’re going to run this, do that,’ and it never happened,” he said. “These coaches, they’ll get you the ball.
“We had the players last year, but we just didn’t have the plays.”
Powell praised McElwain’s offensive acumen, saying, “The play-calling is totally different. We were [in the] shotgun the whole game [last season]. Now, we’re shotgun, under center, two wides, maybe five-wide sometimes. You’ve got a lot of variety in [the system] and in play-calling. That’s going to help us out.”
Quarterback play will largely determine UF’s offensive success next season, but Powell is confident whoever wins the battle between former Miami Booker T. Washington star Treon Harris and Will Grier will lead the unit out of its well-documented doldrums.
“We hear it all the time [from fans],” Powell said. “Everywhere you go. You go to the store and fans want to know about the offense.
“Come Sept. 5, we’ll see.”