Damond Powell’s journey through junior college will end Wednesday when he takes his final summer exam.
He’ll barely have time to pack his bags before embarking on his next journey as a receiver for the Iowa football team.
Powell will have less than a week to make the transition from Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, to practicing with the Hawkeyes. Iowa will hold its first practice Monday and will have its annual media day event Aug. 8 in preparation for the 2013 season.
Powell’s former position coach at Snow College is optimistic that Powell will meet his academic requirements in junior college and be eligible to play for Iowa this season.
“As far as I know, everything is right on course,” said Clay Bayard, who coached Powell for the past two seasons. “And I say that just because as long as I’ve been coaching there is always something that could come out of nowhere. But him being here and no one else is here on campus, he’s kind of been on his own with us and the coaches that have been around. I know he has been good personally with every teacher he has had. And as far as I know, his reports of what his grades are should be good.
“He’s got one more test to go. They don’t actually officially post grades yet. He’s got a few spots they need to get on there. But I talk to him every day, still, and according to him, and according to what I know, everything is good.”
Powell, who couldn’t be reached for comment, is one of five receivers in Iowa’s 2013 recruiting class, but the only junior college player in the class.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has been reluctant to recruit college players over the years. And when he does, Ferentz prefers that they join his program at the start of the spring semester, or at least early in the summer, in order to have more time to adjust.
Ferentz made an exception with Powell, who averaged a whopping 30 yards per catch as a sophomore last season. Powell finished with over 1,900 receiving yards in two seasons at Snow College, including 1,231 yards and 14 touchdowns last fall.
Iowa sorely missed his big-play capability at receiver last season while sputtering to a 4-8 record and completing just seven touchdown passes. Powell caught twice as many touchdown passes last season as Iowa had as a team.
“I 100-percent know Iowa wants this kid bad,” Bayard said. “They talk to us still, especially right now, almost every single day. I’ve never had so much contact with a school. I know how bad they want him.”
Ferentz was asked about Powell’s potential impact last week at the Big Ten football media days in Chicago.
“We really like him,” Ferentz said. “He’s a high-energy guy, and I think a good player. The biggest concern is just what conditioning level he’ll be at when he gets here.”
Bayard said the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Powell was a project on and off the field when he arrived at Snow College.
“On the field he is explosive and one of the best teammates that I have ever seen,” Bayard said. “He’s a hard worker. He’s had to learn how to be taught how to do things. I don’t think he was taught much technique in high school or even how to learn to go to class and stuff like that. So in the last few years, he’s grown leaps and bounds in terms of becoming a man that way.”
Powell didn’t qualify academically coming out of high school in Toledo, Ohio, so he has to earn his Associate of Arts degree in junior college in order to become eligible at a four-year institution. He is on the verge of clearing that hurdle, according to Bayard, but it hasn’t always been easy.
“He still has his setbacks,” Bayard said. “He’s not a perfect student by any means. But he’s still night and day compared to when he first got here. He’s been here pretty much exactly two years and he’s spent close to 85 percent of his time here in Ephraim.
“There are a lot of kids that walk through the door, especially at a junior college. They can have great ability, but they don’t have the effort. And Damond has really put in the effort. He hasn’t been perfect. He’s had to re-take some classes and stuff like that. But he’s gotten it done, which is a lot more than a lot of kids do.”
Powell had few scholarship offers from FBS schools despite his gaudy statistics and despite his speed, which Bayard described as ridiculous. Bayard thinks it was because of the uncertainty surrounding Powell’s academic situation and because Powell was typecast as a receiver.
“He’s more versatile than I think he was versus last year,” Bayard said. “But I think a lot of people saw his highlights and I just think they thought he was kind of a one-trick pony, just kind of vertical threat.”
Bayard said Powell recently was clocked at 4.34 seconds in the 40-yard dash, albeit hand-timed. Bayard believes that Powell can handle the quick transition because Snow Colleges uses an offense that’s similar to what Iowa runs under Ferentz.
“We’ve been pro-style, zone offense just like they’ve been for years,” Bayard said of Iowa. “He should fit right into their offense as long as he can pick up the verbiage a little bit quicker.”
Reach Pat Harty at 339-7370 or email@example.com.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football