Cornell Powell ready to step into a larger role
|Friday, September 16, 2016, 8:01 AM- -|
Freshman wide receiver Cornell Powell went from not playing against Auburn to getting one catch against Troy to having a larger role moving forward in the Clemson offense.
One injury will do that, and Powell knows he has to be ready for the next step now that Hunter Renfrow is out for a few weeks with a hand injury.
“Me and Hunter, we made a bond. When I first learned the news, I was obviously sad because he’s a great player,” Powell said. “He’s a heck of a player, and he just makes plays, so I knew that it was going to impact the team. But after that, I realized that this could be my moment to show what I can do and go out there and help my team the best way I can.”
Just how can Powell help the team?
“I can bring speed, physicality, and a deep ball threat, red zone, whatever the team needs me to do,” he said. “I can play kick return, punt return. Whatever it may be, I’m ready to embrace my role.”
That role likely will grow starting Saturday against South Carolina State, but Powell was happy to get his first game under his belt against Troy. He didn’t play against Auburn, but was fine with that decision.
“It’s definitely different from me being a top player and coming into a program and having to wait,” he said. “But it’s a humbling experience. I know that it was best for the team, and we ended up with a win, and that’s all that mattered.”
The freshman from Greenville, North Carolina, got in on 19 plays against Troy and had the one catch for 5 yards.
“It was very exciting just to go out there and play for a top-rated team in the nation and one of the best teams in the ACC,” Powell said. “It was definitely a life experience moment, and now that I got that out of the way and all the nerves, I’m ready to go in and perfect my craft and make my team better.”
Maybe the best part of the day came before the game even began.
“Getting off the bus at the top of the hill, seeing 80,000-plus for the first time from that perspective, it was just an amazing feeling,” Powell said. “Running down the hill, it was just great. That probably had to be the best moment.”
Fellow freshman Diondre Overton, who is from Greensboro, also made his debut Saturday, and he got in on six plays.
“Coming in, it was definitely good to have a lifetime friend, a lifelong friend like Dre,” Powell said of adjusting to college life. “It just made the process so much easier because I had someone to just talk to and I could relate to, not just coming in here and being a stranger to everyone. So it made it easier, but we both have the same mindset that when our number’s called and it’s time for us to step up that we’re ready for it. That’s how we bonded, and we’re just ready.”
Daniel Shirley is the sports editor of The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., and co-host of The Midday Sports Zone on Middle Georgia’s ESPN, 93.1 FM and 99.5 FM. Follow him on Twitter at @DM_Shirley and read his blog at macon.com/peachsports.