IOWA CITY, Ia. – Damond Powell brought with him from junior college a reputation for making big plays as a receiver.
He also brought an understanding that success at the FBS level wouldn’t just happen automatically.
Powell knew he’d have to prove himself in practice and stay patient in order to make an impact for the Hawkeyes.
He has done both of those things and finally was rewarded during Saturday’s 59-3 victory over Western Michigan by catching his first touchdown pass as a Hawkeye – a 29-yard scoring strike from starting quarterback Jake Rudock with 6 minutes, 36 seconds left in the third quarter.
Powell said afterwards that it wasn’t hard staying patient because he trusts the Iowa coaches.
“Not really because I know they have a plan,” Powell said of the Iowa coaches. “I trust my coaching staff. They’ve been great to me ever since I landed.”
The plan for Powell on Saturday seemed simple; wait for him to blow past his defender and then get him the ball.
In addition to his touchdown catch, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Powell also caught a 54-yard pass from backup quarterback C.J. Beathard in the fourth quarter. The ball was placed almost perfectly so Powell didn’t have to break stride.
“He put it on the money,” Powell said of Beathard. “The cornerback made a great play by tackling me. But he made a great pass.”
Powell was the only junior-college player to sign with Iowa’s 2013 recruiting class. He was overlooked by most FBS schools despite being a dominate player in junior college. Powell caught 41 passes for 1,231 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore last season at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. He also led the nation with an average of 30 yards per reception.
He now leads Iowa with an average of 44 yards per catch, with three receptions covering 132 yards. Powell caught a 49-yard pass against Northern Illinois in the season opener, but was held without a catch in the previous two games against Iowa State and Missouri State.
“Practice is the key,” said Powell, who is a native of Toledo, Ohio. “How you practice is how you’re going to play in the game.
“We’ve been practicing extremely hard Monday through Friday and it’s a paying off on Saturday.”
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has praised Powell since the start of preseason practice in August for bringing a positive energy to the team. Ferentz praised Powell Saturday for bringing his big-play capability.
“Anytime you have a big play that’s a positive, and to get some guys involved like Damond,” Ferentz said. “He may have had some catches prior to this. I can’t really remember. But for him to be able to catch the ball in stride today, that was really a good thing.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football