South Side senior linebacker Nicholas Powell has had one dream since he was a youngster playing youth football – play college football.
He got one offer to play, and that was the only offer he felt he needed.
Last week, Powell said he’s grateful to the football program at Bethel University for giving him the opportunity to continue playing the sport he loves.
“I’m going to college to play football, and I’m not going far from home to do it so my family and friends can come watch me play,” Powell said. “And my college is paid for, that’s probably the biggest blessing.”
Powell said during a recent official visit with Bethel earlier this year, head coach Michael Jasper gave him the statement he hoped he would hear.
“I was up there and was waiting to meet with him, and he came in and gave me a big hug,” Powell said. “Then he looked at me and said, ‘If you want it, your schooling is paid for.’
“I didn’t even have to think about it after that. I was so grateful to him and to Bethel and to God for the opportunity.”
Powell’s teammates, friends and family met with him in South Side’s fieldhouse to celebrate the accomplishment.
“I remember the first time I came in here,” Powell told South Side head coach Tyler Reeder when he first walked in to the weightroom before the signing ceremony. “I had no idea what I was doing.”
Powell’s freshman season was in 2019. So his first full offseason at South Side was the year COVID-19 canceled all TSSAA sports activities for the entire spring, meaning he didn’t go through a full session of spring football until he was preparing for his junior season.
“It was tempting to not work hard and not keep working out and eating right because we didn’t even know if we’d have a season that year,” Powell said. “But I hoped we would have a season, and if we were having one, then I knew I needed to be ready that year.”
Reeder said that kind of attitude and work ethic is the reason Powell gets to continue playing football at the next level.
“That’s the kind of kid he is, and he’s a great athlete with a ton of potential,” Reeder said. “I’m proud of him.”
Powell said he’s hopeful of getting a shot at playing pro football. He said knowing Jasper played for the Buffalo Bills in the NFL for a few years, he’s hoping he can glean from Jasper’s knowledge and experience to position himself for a possible shot at pro ball after college ball is complete.
“You never know what can happen when you get there,” Powell said. “So I’m going with that mentality.”
Brandon Shields, firstname.lastname@example.org