Auburn's "Utility Man" On Defense

Talented redshirt freshman Jerraud Powers talks about his very busy first season of playing for the Tigers.

Dallas, Tex.--For much of the 2006 season redshirt freshman defensive back Jerraud Powers was something of a Renaissance man for the Auburn defense. Not only was he playing cornerback, his chosen position, but he was also the nickel back and dime back on occasion as well.

Then things got even more challenging for the Decatur native late in the season. With starting safety Eric Brock injured out out of the lineup, Powers was asked to learn the safety position as well as keeping tabs on his other three responsibilities.

Still doing all four jobs as the Tigers prepare to face Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl, Powers says it has been tough, but he's doing what it takes to win for the team. "I don't have any good things to say about it now," Powers says of juggling four assignments. "We've got Zac Etheridge back there and he's getting a couple of reps with us at safety. He's sort of doing what I'm doing, he's learning the corner and safety. It's tough because it's two completely different positions.

"At safety you're like the quarterback of the defense. At corner you just have to know what to do. If you bust a play at corner or safety that can be six. You just have to stay on top of your game and do your responsibility."

A confident player for the Tigers who got his first action as the fifth defensive back this season, Powers earned the trust of defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and he eventually became one of Auburn's most important defensive players because of his versatility. He says that his year has been a trying one, but in the end it will make him a better player.

"Going into the LSU game I was just the nickel," Powers says. "Then I went in and was just a corner. Other games I go in as just the nickel and all of the sudden another guy gets banged up and now I'm the dime. That was another game that happened. I go into games having to know the safety, nickel, dime and corner positions. We're so thin in the secondary you never know what will happen.

"I knew if I knew all the positions in the secondary it gives me a head start on some guys (for next year)," Powers adds. "It gives me more opportunities to play. I don't have a problem with it at all. I call myself a utility guy."

Powers blocks a punt against Florida that was returned for a touchdown.

Comfortable at corner and at the nickel and dime, Powers has spent a lot of time working at safety during the bowl practices to help the learning process there. He says it's so important to always be on top of things as a safety and that's something he's working on every day the Tigers get on the field.

"At safety I'm still new to it, but some things I'm kind of guessing or wondering what I should do," Powers says. "Stuff I know I try to let the whole defense know what's going on. If a safety tells a guy what to do he's going to do it because the safety is the quarterback. It's important for them to do on defense. If they don't know what to do then for sure nobody else is going to know what to do."

The Cotton Bowl will be the last Auburn game for senior cornerback David Irons, but other than that Auburn returns a wealth of experienced talent in the secondary with Jonathan Wilhite and Patrick Lee back at cornerback and Eric Brock, Aairon Savage and Tristan Davis returning at safety. Powers says that his experience this season playing so many different positions has made him a better and more confident player and that should help his progression as well as the progression of the defense next season.

"It makes me a smarter player and helps me mature quickly," Powers says. "There's not too much room for mistakes. Having to learn each position I think is going to help me grow up.

"People will look to me and if they don't know what to do they can ask me because I play the position. Coming into next year and the spring I'm looking forward to seeing how it's going to turn out with me playing all the positions in the fall. I think it's helped me a lot."

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