AP file photo by Todd Van Emst|
Auburn sophomore cornerback Jerraud Powers played in 13 games last year. The Decatur High grad is eager to see more playing time this season.
Powers ready to make more big plays for AU
By Ross Dellenger
AUBURN — Auburn defensive end Sen’Derrick Marks now laughs at the story.
But when it happened, it was as genuine as it gets.
A chuckling Marks told about his first meeting with Decatur native and Auburn cornerback Jerraud Powers. Both high school seniors, Powers and Marks were competing at the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Game in Mobile.
“When he walked up, it was like, ‘He signed with Auburn?’ Guy looked pretty little to sign with Auburn,” Marks recalled, smiling.
Then the game began.
He saw Powers lay a hit on Mississippi quarterback Jimmy Johns, who now plays running back for Alabama.
“He did something to (Johns’) shoulder. I was like, wow,” Marks said. “Now, he’s still cool.”
Powers may stand at only 5 feet, 9 inches and weigh less than 190 pounds, but he packs a mean punch. He wields his small muscular frame like a weapon, thrusting himself into ball carriers.
“I know it was a big collision,” Powers said of the hit to Johns.
Asked if he intends to hit Johns the same way Nov. 24 when Auburn meets Alabama this season, he said, “I’m not even thinking about that. I’m thinking about Kansas State.”
A focused individual to say the least.
Avoiding talk of the Iron Bowl is not easy for an Auburn player. But that’s the personality of Powers. He’s as humble as they come.
When asked about the injury to Johns during that play in the all-star game, he said, “I think he had a shoulder injury.”
A modest Powers didn’t elaborate, even when asked. In fact, he said that he has never seen a replay of the collision.
The 20-year-old sophomore who played at Decatur High will likely play a large role this year for the Tigers. And even though he doesn’t want to talk about it, he could get a chance to lay another lick on Johns, the Tide’s likely starting running back this season.
Last year, Powers didn’t start one game, but he played in all 13. This season may be a replay of 2006. Powers plays behind preseason all-SEC second-team cornerback Jonathan Wilhite, but a year from now, when Wilhite has graduated, he may be the first name on the depth chart instead of No. 2.
Either way, Powers will still be competing for that first-string role during the next few weeks of preseason practice.
“We got a good group of corners battling for spots,” he said. “Right now, our main focus is to get better as a group, but then again there is competition too.”
Powers may be more known for his special teams play than the 26 tackles he made as a redshirt freshman last season. During Auburn’s win against No. 1 Florida, he was the guy who blocked that much-heralded punt in the third quarter that was returned for a touchdown.
But once again his modesty couldn’t be silenced, even when talking about what was named the National Pontiac Game Changing Performance of the Year.
Powers bestows partial credit to teammate Tristan Davis, who struck from the opposite side during the blocked punt.
“We repped that play the whole week. (Davis) came free on the edge, and he brought the punter to me. And when he hit the punter, the punter kicked it right into me,” he said.
Powers was named all-area defensive back during his senior year of high school. Rivals.com ranked him as one of Alabama’s top 25 prospects.
He was offered scholarships by Alabama, Texas A&M and Nebraska, but chose Auburn because of the team atmosphere.
“I was comfortable around the players,” he said. “They reminded me a lot of my high school teammates. Everybody was a family.”
There’s a part of Powers’ high-school career that gets overshadowed by his football prowess. He averaged 15 points a game on Decatur High’s basketball team.
He still shoots hoops when he’s not chasing down receivers or intercepting passes. He and, now good friend, Marks go at it regularly.
And if there is one thing that Powers isn’t bashful boasting about, it’s his talents on the hardwood.
“I always kill him,” he said about the man who once thought of him as being little. “I teach him the ropes.”
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