Tanner's Ryan Powers keeps working at Arkansas
By Ronak Patel
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Ryan Powers, a redshirt freshman linebacker at Arkansas, recently learned how quirky college football can be.
The former Tanner High standout started his first collegiate game on the road Sept. 15 against Alabama, a team he rooted for as a child. Alabama won the high-scoring affair, 41-38.
"It felt really good to be playing in my backyard," said Powers, who made The Daily's all-area squad as a senior in 2005.
Powers made three solo tackles, and he said wasn't nervous playing in front of family, friends and about 92,000 roaring Crimson Tide fans.
"I just showed up and played the best I could — I wasn't nervous at all. I had about 16 to 20 family and friends there. I got all the tickets I could," Powers said.
Then came a 42-29 loss to Kentucky. Even though Powers had four tackles, he also was whistled for two penalties on a Kentucky touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
Powers was moved to the second team, as junior Elston Forte moved into the starting lineup for Saturday's 66-7 win over North Texas. It's a situation like this where Powers' mentality will serve him well.
"He's a good kid," said his high school coach, Tanner's Laron White.
Powers wasn't highly touted coming out of Tanner, despite offers from Alabama and Southern Mississippi.
"Alabama came late in the process, and several other big schools (LSU, Louisville) came in behind, but Arkansas was there from day one," Powers said. "Arkansas stuck with me despite my injury."
That injury, according to Powers and White, was a strained hamstring in his right leg, which occurred his senior year.
"I kept playing on it, and it pulled on me," Powers said.
White kept Powers out of the lineup during the Rattlers' second-round state playoff contest, a 28-24 victory over Woodland. Powers did play in their third-round game, a 26-7 loss to Clay County.
"He did all he could do," White said.
The hamstring continued to bother Powers in college. Last year, during a game against Vanderbilt, Powers felt a sensation he never had felt before.
"I tore my hamstring," Powers said.
The injury forced him to take a medical redshirt and sit out the year.
"That first year, things were going at a fast pace," Powers said. "But the injury allowed me to watch and observe from the sidelines. That helped me become better in my mental preparation, and the game has slowed down a lot from last year."
Now, Powers said he thinks he's "100 percent healthy," and White said he believes his former star's abilities have assimilated well to the college game.
"He's fast," White said. "He was skinny when he first got to Tanner. I didn't think about his potential initially, but over time, you saw the pure speed and abilities come through."
Powers won White's admiration in another way, too.
"When I talk to kids, I bring up how Powers got focused in the classroom his last year (at Tanner) to qualify for college," White said.
"I tell about how he buckled down and became aware of how important education is. Without education, there is no scholarship and no college football for Powers."
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