While he's not the biggest or the fastest, sophomore Jerraud Powers has put himself into position to be a starting cornerback in 2007 as he continues to split time with senior Patrick Lee on the left side of Auburn's defense. Powers says so far things have gone well during two-a-days as he gets ready for the season.
"It's going pretty good, but it's kind of tough," he tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "We install a lot of things every day. You've just got to keep up and work hard because there is a lot of competition out there. Your spot is not promised out here with Coach (Will) Muschamp. If I did horrible today I'm pretty sure tomorrow I won't be out there with the ones. That goes for everybody. We're just out here competing."
As a redshirt freshman last season, Powers was one of the more important members of the Auburn secondary as he played both the nickel and dime man in the Tigers' defense as well as his time spent at cornerback. In addition to that, Muschamp also had Powers learn the safety position because of a lack of depth. Powers says after all his experience in the defense last year he feels more equipped to handle things this season.
"It prepared me well because Muschamp knows I can play nickel," Powers says. "When it's time for the younger guys to get reps he's telling me to coach them up. It's sort of like I'm the teacher when it comes to the nickel and dime stuff because I was so used to it last year.
"It's sort of a relief that I don't have to worry about safety right now. It helps me a lot at corner because I can focus more but at the same time I can focus on the nickel as well."
Jerraud Powers works against wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez in a recent practice.
Last season Muschamp stated on several occasions that he felt like he had three starting cornerbacks in Lee, Jonathan Wilhite and David Irons. With Irons gone to the Atlanta Falcons, Powers says he's happy to be included and make it three starters once again. While there is competition to be the best, he notes sometimes you have to be more concerned about the overall good of the team and less on the individual aspect.
"During the whole summer the whole secondary kind of took each other in," Powers says. "We knew if we weren't close we wouldn't be good as a secondary. Me and Pat Lee and Wilhite and Savage, we're probably going to go eat after practice and laugh about what we did. We're all close and we all know it's a competition so there's no hard feelings. Right now I might be ahead of Pat Lee on the depth chart, but he's going to help me at the same time. We're just going to keep competing."
That competition is evident every day on the practice field as the defensive backs spent a majority of the time working against an Auburn wide receiver corps that has come out this preseason and shown improvement over where it was in the spring. Powers says in particular a couple of guys have caught his eye so far in preseason camp.
"So far I like Montez Billings and Terrell Zachery is tough in the slot," Powers says. "He's a big guy, like 205, and can really run. He's kind of tough to guard in the slot. Montez has gotten physical in the last two years and learned a lot from Courtney Taylor. He's sort of turned it on this year. He's pretty tough now."
Auburn will enter the season opener against Kansas State with a defense some expect to be one of the best in the SEC this year. While the potential is definitely there, Powers says it's up to the team to accept that challenge and step up its game after an 11-victory year in 2006, but not a dominating one. Powers says another year in Muschamp's system has the defense ready to come out firing this season.
"That's another difference from last summer," Powers says. "Last summer it was sort of new to everybody and a lot of guys weren't sure about some of the things. Now when we come out here everybody is talking and yelling different stuff because they are familiar with the different plays we run. It's a lot easier terminology-wise than it was last year."