Hometown/HS: Bedford, Ohio
Previous Stats: Powell is OSU's No. 5 returning tackler after making 48 stops a season ago as a redshirt freshman. He added one tackle for loss, one interception, two pass breakups, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery.
What They're Saying: Powell was designated as a starter after shining this spring in his new position, but he's still not taking anything for granted.
"First of all, nothing is guaranteed," he said even Meyer named him a starter at one safety spot after the spring game. "That is not going to stop me from working hard this offseason and doing what I did last season and going into the offseason working hard. He might say that now, but with people coming in and stuff like that, nothing is guaranteed. All it does is motivate me. I don't want to let him down, and I want that to be a true thing."
Still, leaving spring as a starter – while Vonn Bell and Cam Burrows battle out the other spot – is a bit of a feather in the cap of Powell. A three-star prospect in the class of 2012, Powell redshirted his freshman year but famously fell under the tutelage of Kerry Coombs, who directed much of his energy into hassling Powell into being ready for playing time in 2013.
It worked well, as Powell became OSU's starting nickel back a season ago for the entire campaign. He was a steady player and made perhaps the play of the season, sealing with Michigan game with an interception on a two-point conversion that would have won the game for the Wolverines.
During bowl practice, Powell moved back to safety – the spot he played in high school and the place he seems most suited to given his build – and started there vs. Clemson. He showed good downhill instincts in run support vs. the Tigers, making six tackles (five of the solo variety).
"I think I played decent for me to be playing safety for the first time (in college)," he said. "I had a lot of practice time, I had 15 practices. I don't think I did that bad. Obviously I didn't do that bad because they still have me there."
They do, in fact, and Powell will be one of the top players tasked with improving last year's pass defense, which became the team's Achilles' heel as the season went on. The Buckeyes will have a young but talented back end that expects to play faster in 2013 under Chris Ash's schemes.
"I had a lot of improvement from day one to today," he said after the spring game. "I think I had a drastic improvement in my game and in my leadership. That's basically what it was really about was me becoming a leader, and I feel like I was able to go out there and motivate my team."
As Powell said, his goal is to be a leader in the back end in his third year in the program. He spent the spring game making sure younger players like Gareon Conley, who redshirted a season ago, became comfortable making the calls and checks necessary while playing in the heated environment of Ohio Stadium.
With three sophomores expected to lead the safety group one year after three seniors topped the position, Powell must be ready to do that and then some during the 2014 season.
"When something needed to be said today, I was just out there talking and they took it and ran with it," Powell said after the spring game. "So it was kind of a natural feeling for me, but I know that at times it was stuff that needed to be said and I was able to come through and say the right things and go out there and make plays."