News from the Tennessee Valley Sports
SUNDAY, JULY 15, 2007

Auburn cornerback Jerraud Powers, who graduated from Decatur High, studies Jordan Smith’s run through an agility drill at the Taye Biddle speed camp at Decatur High on Saturday.
Daily photos by John Godbey
Auburn cornerback Jerraud Powers, who graduated from Decatur High, studies Jordan Smith’s run through an agility drill at the Taye Biddle speed camp at Decatur High on Saturday.

AU, Tide stars friends off field

By Ashley Hargrove · 340-2460

The Iron Bowl is several months away, and for one day out of the year Alabama’s Nikita Stover and Auburn’s Jerraud Powers are rivals on the field. The other 364 days, they’re best friends.

Saturday the two came together, along with Stover’s college teammate and former West Morgan standout Eric Gray, to help with Taye Biddle’s inaugural speed camp. Although Biddle is a couple of years older than the three, they said they look up to him.

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Alabama’s Eric Gray gives some friendly advice to 3-year-old Dion Hubbard II.
“It means a lot to be able to help Taye give back to the community,” said Powers, a Decatur High graduate. “Most of the kids out here are in the same situation we were in when we were younger. They look up to us because we’re in college, and they’re trying to make it there. We look up at Taye as a pro athlete because we want to make it there one day. It just lets these kids know that nothing is impossible.”

As youngsters, all three had athletes that they looked up to. Stover and Powers looked up to San Diego Chargers quarterback and Athens High graduate Philip Rivers and Biddle, while Gray looked up to former Athens High standout Zeke Parker. Gray said some of his best memories as a child came from playing football in the Decatur Pop Warner organization.

“I always went out and had fun,” Gray said. “The main thing was just enjoying the game.”

Although many football fans in the South assume that Auburn and Alabama players have a bit of hatred toward each other, Powers said that doesn’t stand true.

“There is a lot of smack talking that goes on,” Powers said. “But Bama and Auburn players don’t hate each other.”

Stover recalls one instant between him and Powers during last year’s game.

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Tide wide receiver Nikita Stover watches Jordan Ratliff’s steps.
“I had just caught a pass from John Parker (Wilson) and next thing I know I’m on the ground,” Stover said. “Jerraud looked over at me and said, ‘I’m gonna be here all day.’ There was quite a bit of smack talking going on during the game but it was all for fun. There weren’t any hurt feelings.”

When asked about who they thought would win this year’s game, Powers said, “We’re on a roll.”

Stover had different thoughts. “Last year, they had ‘fear the thumb’, this year, we have ‘fear the finger,’ ” Stover said with a grin.

With Nick Saban’s first game as the Crimson Tide’s head coach a couple months away, Stover said things are looking up for the Tide.

“The different style of coaching has made things more intense,” Stover said. “There is more of a unity this year. We’re expecting more out of ourselves.”

Gray agreed: “There are great expectations for this year. We’re hoping for a successful season.”

With the addition of Florida State to the Tide’s schedule, both Stover and Gray said they are excited about the big game.

Power’s said Auburn is looking to have another successful year on the gridiron.

“With summer workouts still going on, it’s hard to tell how things are going to go,” Powers said. “We have a lot of tough road games this year, but we’re just hoping for the best. I can’t wait until the season gets here.

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