When you play for a team, known for winning, and having stars at every position, how do you stand out? Well if you are wide-receiver Cornell Powell, you wait your turn, and when you get your shot, you show out. Arguably, Powell has been one of the best all-around targets, not just at Clemson, but in the entire college football world. Standing at 6’0 even at 210 LBs, Powell, has the size, speed, and consistent hands you look for as an NFL scout. What stood out most about the Greenville, NC, native, when speaking to him this past week, was how humble and unfazed he is by all the recent buzz, and playing for the school, known for being the best. That became obvious when I asked him who he was outside of football? and how he dealt with the pressures of playing for a perennial powerhouse?
“Outside of football, I am a normal family man, really, family first for me, that’s how I was raised. I’m a family guy, I like to chill, hang out with friends, doesn’t have to be a crazy time, I don’t mind the low-key, or it being low-key. At the same time, I am an outgoing person, I am very friendly, I can talk to anyone, strike up a conversation with anyone, just someone who loves to have a good time, and I only like good vibes man, so, pretty simple.”
Continuing on he spoke about the pressures of playing for the College standard?
“Honestly I wouldn’t say its pressure, I really wouldn’t say pressure. I would say I came to Clemson because I am built for a place like this, I’m built to play in moments like we have, in the big games, always being under the lights, under a microscope, I would say I am built to play in the biggest games, so I don’t think it any extra pressure really. When I got here to Clemson, I already had tat in me, I was already built like that, but playing for Clemson, they just enhanced it, that’s what they do here, they take what you can do, who you are, and make it a better version. Being in the playoffs, and playing against the unbelievable competition, makes you better, it really builds your confidence, and really I learned a lot, on the field and off of it, playing here. So, no, no extra pressure playing here in Clemson, I just go out and try to showcase my talent really.”
Playing at Clemson, takes a special breed of person, being the best at your high school, doesn’t mean you will be the best for the Tigers, or even good enough to be atop back up. Powell, learned over his years, to stay patient, and humble. You could say it paid off. Considered a legit top 20 WR, for good reason. His route running, is clean, he comes in and out of breaks quickly, keeping defenders, on their heels. He also stands out in the run game, either with the ball in his hands or more importantly as a blocker. He isn’t afraid to mix it up with the defense, which bodes well r him at the next level. Staying on the theme of pressure, I asked Powell, what it was like playing behind so many star wide-outs, throughout his career? and what it was like now that it was his turn, along with teammate, Amare Rodgers?
” Pressure playing behind those guys, no, not really. At Clemson, we have a standard at receiver, set by the guys before me, and I am really just trying to uphold that standard. Any way I can really, no matter if it’s in the running game, out on the edge blocking, or in the passing game. Playing in traffic over the middle, or going deep, whatever it is they need us to do, me and Amare, we gone do it, we are going to get it done the right way. The standard set before us is something we take seriously, we take to heart, so we work our butt off to keep it. We want to make sure the guys that come after us, know what the standard is, what it means to play receiver at Clemson. Amare and I have been blessed to have an amazing season so far, but we also know the best is yet to come. We have to keep on working, keep on improving each week, we haven’t played a perfect game yet, neither of us has really, but we know we have to just keep getting better. We have to keep watching the tape and see what needs to improve. We have to come out the next week and be better than the week before. That is the standard that was set before me, and that is the standard I want to keep going for years to come.”
Moving forward I asked him what was the biggest difference, between now and his previous seasons? also, what the biggest difference is playing with and without Heisman Trophy winner, QB Travis Lawrence?
“Really its preparation, they instill that in us here. Work your butt off and you will get your shot, I was ready, I worked my butt off and now the results are starting to show. As far as playing without Lawrence, it starts with playing with the best running back in college, Travis Etienne, is the best runner in college, and a real weapon. Defenses have to crowd the box when he is in. When Trevor isn’t in, they feel like they can put extra pressure on the run game, you have to stop Travis. Good luck with that, but that’s a huge difference, when Trevor is in you can’t sit with 8 in the box, you have to be honest as a defense. Because he can pick apart a team, D.J. (backup QB) is still young, and he will be that dangerous, but for now, teams are trying to challenge him, and that gives me a lot more one-on-ones, and then its just a matter of winning them. So I would say that is the biggest difference.”
Needless to say, Powell, has the mental part of the game locked in. He understands his job, and what it takes to be successful at it, and that is what sets him apart, from tons of other WRs, well that and his talent. As far as him playing at the next level, I tried to get some breaking news, and asked him if he would be declaring for the NFL draft this year? to that, he simply replied, “Man, I am only focused on the next one, Florida State.” You can’t blame me for trying. When you watch the tape on Powell, you see talent, that has all the tools, and the skill set, to be a weapon at the next level. But if ever given a chance to talk to the young man, you would see an intelligent, humble, and very self-aware individual, and I think, that may be what really makes the Clemson WR, great.