Powell emerging when needed as top target in Clemson offense
|Friday, November 13, 2020, 8:01 AM- -|
Emerging as a top target can be easier said than done at the school that dubs itself ‘WRU.’
Cornell Powell was rated as a four-star prospect and as high as the No. 36 overall player in the 2016 class (Rivals). He capped his impressive run at Rose High School (NC) with 264 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in the Shrine Bowl.
After seeing action each of the previous four seasons -- one a redshirt, Powell has emerged in a leading role for the Clemson offense lately, compiling more yards already in eight games this season (418) than his 42 contests before (329).
"Great players are made through adversity and sacrifice. So the last four years I've been fighting. Battling," Powell said this week after a career-high 161 receiving yards against Notre Dame. "And it's not like I've not been competing with NFL-caliber guys. If you look at it, I came in and they had Mike (Williams), Tay (Artavis Scott), Hunter (Renfrow) and had Deon (Cain) and Ray Ray (McCloud) and we had (Diondre Overton), J-Ross (Justyn Ross). So those guys are no slouches, you know. So I knew that whenever my time was called or whenever my number was called, I was going to be ready.
"That's what you've seen."
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence says Powell's increased confidence is showing on the field.
"Now he realizes, some of the plays he’s made -- ‘I can do it. I have confidence in my ability and my skill,'" Lawrence said. "That’s a huge part of this game is being confident and that’s how you go make plays like how he’s doing. I love to see him getting confidence as a fifth-year senior. He’s had to kinda wait in line behind some great receivers in front of him the past few years and now it’s his chance and he’s taking advantage of it.
"I’ve got a lot of confidence in him and we’re just going to keep getting better and I’m happy that he is playing well.”
Powell's game has raised to another level when the Clemson offense has needed it most -- down its star QB and hurting in the receiver room, where highly-regarded talents such as Frank Ladson Jr. and Joseph Ngata have been hampered with injury.
Freshman quarterback DJ Uiagalelei targeted Powell 19 times and connected on 17 of them for 266 yards and a touchdown over the last two games.
"Lately these past couple games just -- (I'm) just having fun, just having joy in the moment when I'm out there on the field," Powell said. "You never know when the last time might be the last time (out there). So you just go out there and have fun and the fun is always on the Saturdays every week."
Fellow senior receiver Amari Rodgers is only expecting more down the stretch.
"He’s been very patient," Rodgers said. "It could have been easy for him to pack his bags and transfer where it would be easy, but he stuck around and grinded it out and he’s learned from the best here and now he’s here. Showing out on the big stage. It’s only up from here for him. I’m just excited for him and excited to see what else he will put out there this year. He just has to keep grinding and keep doing it day-by-day and just keep improving."