Iron Bowl a Battle of Friends and Rivals

Jerraud Powers talks about his relationship with many of the Alabama players and what his role will be in Saturday's Iron Bowl.

Auburn, Ala.--The Iron Bowl is considered by many as the greatest rivalry in all of college football. It's certainly the most meaningful game of the season for fans of both sides. For the players, it's a rivalry that annually features old high school friends and rivals reunited on the gridiron to battle it out once again.

Such is the case for redshirt freshman defensive back Jerraud Powers, who played his prep days at Decatur High School.

"They've got some game breakers on the team that I know of," Powers says of the Alabama offense. "The quarterback, John Parker Wilson, I've been playing against him ever since I was in high school. I know he's a great player. I played against him my sophomore and junior year, then he graduated since he's a year older."

Wilson, from Hoover High School, and Powers have played against each other since 2002 and stay in touch off the field. On Saturday, it's Powers' opportunity for revenge after losing to Wilson in high school.

"My sophomore year they beat us pretty handily," Powers explains. "Chad Jackson and all of those guys were on that team. My junior year we took them to overtime and they were ranked 17th or 18th in country. When they first got ranked nationally we took them down to the wire and they ended up beating us in overtime.

"Usually when I see (Wilson), and I'm good friends with Jarrod Bryant, who was the quarterback for them my senior year, we usually talk about the game a lot. John Parker usually throws it in my face that they beat us."

Having never played against Alabama and not yet having a chance to look at the film of the Crimson Tide, Powers still already knows what to expect from the Tide quarterback, obviously, and the receivers as well.

"D.J. (Hall) and Keith (Brown) are the go-to receivers and they've been playing ever since they were true freshmen," Powers notes. "Nikita Stover is in the lineup with them and I played Nikita against, too. He went to Hartselle. I played against him and I've talked to him a few times this year also. I know they can break open a game any moment."

While Powers played against many of Alabama's players in high school, Saturday's contest will be a reunion for a pair of Decatur defensive backs as well.

"(Safety) Sam Burnthall is my best friend and he goes to Alabama," Powers says. "I talk to him like every day just about. I actually talked to him the other night and we got to talking about the game a little bit. He told me we can put this friends stuff to the side because this is business now.

"All of my good friends from high school and so on go to Alabama, because everybody from north Alabama goes to Alabama," says Powers, who admits he was always a fan of the underdog in the rivalry.

Many of the players on both rosters were recruited by both the Tigers and the Tide. Often times in this great rivalry, especially with the in-state players, it comes down to Auburn or Alabama for their signaturdes.

"Me, Tommy Trott, Montez (Billings), Gabe (McKenzie), we were all talking about it earlier," Powers explains. "We were telling some of the guys about our official visit at Bama and all of that. Me, Tommy and Montez were actually seconds away from committing to Alabama. I'm talking about real close to committing to Alabama. Probably a few more suggestions or something would have gotten me to go there. I was close."

Powers may be called upon to play many positions in the secondary as well as special teams.

Having been thoroughly beaten 37-15 by Georgia on Saturday, Powers says that the mood on the football team is upbeat heading into preparations for the Crimson Tide. The Tigers held a players meeting Sunday afternoon after the position meetings to talk about rebounding to beat Alabama.

"Some of the seniors like Will (Herring) and (Karibi) Dede got up and told everybody to keep our heads up," Powers says. "Sometimes when we lose--we're 9-2 right now--sometimes people make you feel like you're 3-6 or you have a losing record when you lose a game. Sometimes people get so down. They were telling us to keep our head up and keep pressing forward because we still have football to play."

Powers has practiced at every position in the Auburn secondary this season. With Eric Brock's status still questionable for Alabama, Powers may see action at safety, according to coordinator Will Muschamp.

"He's a very quick learner and he does a good job," Muschamp says of the young defensive back. "As a play caller you get caught up in calling the defenses and sometimes you lose sight of substitutions and I'm the worst one about that. I've got to do a better job of getting him involved at the safety position. If he continues to progress the way he is doing he'll play Saturday at safety."

Even though Powers is just a first-year player in a complicated scheme, he says that all of the reads, calls and coverages have come easy to him.

"Sometimes it gets difficult, just like this past week because I had to know what the dime, nickel, corner and safety do because I could have gone in at any moment," he notes. "As far as the mind thing, I've got to study, I've got be ready and I've got to be on my game for any of those positions. It can get difficult early in the week on Sunday or Tuesday when it's all thrown at you, but as the week goes on it smoothes out.

"If he throws me in there I'm fine with it," he adds. "I'll be ready to play anything. We're still short at safety so you never know how it will unravel."

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