Today was supposed to be unattainable for Tyvis Powell.
At a press conference at his high school of Bedford, Ohio, the three-star safety prospect announced his verbal commitment to Ohio State eight days after landing a scholarship offer from his dream school. In the process, he becomes the eighth member of the class and the first one to join since head coach Jim Tressel resigned Monday morning.
On the heels of last season’s 2-8 record for the Bearcats, Powell met with head coach Sean Williams to discuss his future. In a meeting that stretched to an hour and a half, Williams informed the prep junior that his dreams of playing college football at a high-level school in Division I were nothing more than that.
“I told him that I always wanted to go play college football,” Powell told BSB. “He (told me) it’s going to be hard and I’m not going to want to do it and I’m going to give up on it. I told him no, it’s a dream of mine. I want to play college football and in the NFL after that.”
Williams knows a thing or two about what it takes to get to that level. A Bedford alumnus, he was a defensive back for Ohio University before playing briefly for the Carolina Panthers and Kansas City Chiefs. As such, the coach issued his insistent player a challenge.
“I said you’re going to have to do six o’clock in the morning workouts four days a week,” Williams said. “You’re going to have to give up your Saturdays. You’re going to have to run track. You’re going to have to do every single thing that I’m telling you to do.
“I said we can start tomorrow at six o’clock in the morning. I said you call me. That next morning my phone rang. From that day forward it started.”
Powell said his first conversation with his coach on this topic came Nov. 14. When his junior season came to a close, the 6-3, 180-pound defensive back had not received a single letter from a college. It was with this kind of fanfare that the two got to work.
Starting at 6 a.m., Powell would spend 20 minutes on the treadmill. When Williams blew the whistle, he would have to side shuffle or run backward until the coach directed him to do otherwise. Next were sets of jump rope with alternating jumping foot followed by three sets of 15 reps on the power clean and three sets of 10 reps on the hang clean. In addition to pull-ups and five differently styled sets of 100 sit-ups, Powell would do what Williams terms “bumper push-ups” – like regular push-ups, but performed with a 45-pound weight on his back.
This was Monday. Different workouts were devised for Tuesday, Thursday and Friday before Powell went to school.
“I told him that my dream was that,” the player said. “He said, ‘Tyvis, (here’s) what you’re going to have to do and so far I’ve done everything he’s asked and he led me to getting to college football.”
Williams said the workouts continued for seven months. Powell was expected to work out on holidays as well as during school breaks. On Thanksgiving morning, the two spent five hours training and talking before parting at 11 a.m. to spend the rest of the holiday with their respective families before returning the following morning for another session.
On Christmas Eve, they went through a similar workout. Same for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. On Christmas, Powell ran on his own.
“I told him if you go to college, you’re going to go to a BCS school,” Williams said. “What do you think you’re going to be doing on Christmas Eve when you’re in college? Less than four months later is the NFL combine. You think you’re going to be sitting back, relaxing, eating some food at the Christmas table? You’re probably going to be eating with your football family so let’s start doing what they’re probably doing right now: getting ready for a bowl game. So we worked out.”
The coach said that it was around Thanksgiving that he began to realize that Powell was committed to the long haul.
“There were days he was running in the snow, doing things that the average high school kid is not going to do to be the best,” the coach said. “That’s when I knew that he was a different, different kid. I’ve coached some really good athletes but I have no kid that has been willing to sacrifice the things he’s been willing to sacrifice.”
In addition, Williams told Powell he would have to give up his baseball career and spend his spring on the track team. The end result was morning workouts followed by school and more running during track practice. Occasionally, some football conditioning was worked in as well.
“It was hard, I’m not going to lie,” Powell said. “It’s been hard, but I’ve really worked hard.”
Powell is an unranked prospect in the class of 2012 but Williams said he boasts a unique blend of size, speed and smarts both on and off the field that give him all the makings of a sleeper recruit.
His initial negative reaction to Powell’s plans had nothing to do with his talent, Williams said.
“I wasn’t telling him that he wasn’t good enough to get out there and play, but what I was explaining to him was it was going to be a sacrifice,” the coach said. “There were going to be things that he wasn’t going to be able to do if he wanted to be the ultimate player that he talks about being.”