Sawyer Powell blows it up

Washington linebacker Sawyer Powell was relatively unknown, that is until he attended a Nike SPARQ Combine and earned the number one SPARQ rating in the nation among all linebackers and seventh-best overall. Powell is rapidly becoming a hot commodity.

Growing up, Sawyer Powell loved to play football, but it was the other kind of football. He loved to play soccer, that is, until his father Eric stepped in with an effort to get his son more interested in the American version of football.

"The first day I took him to football, when he was 10, he cried all the way," said Eric. "The coach looked at me like I was the worst dad ever. I told him he had to give it two weeks, and if he didn't like it he didn't have to do it."

"Yeah, I remember that day," Sawyer said with a laugh in his voice. "I was just in love with soccer and that was my game. I was good at it and then my dad told me, 'No, you have to go play football.' I was like, 'What? No! I'm going to go pro in soccer!' He pretty much had to drag me out the door."

After that day, Sawyer found his true love.

"Within 15 minutes, he was smiling from ear to ear and he's never looked back," said Eric.

Having found his true love, Sawyer entered high school with full intention of playing prep ball. It wasn't long before he caught the eye of his high school coaches after they noticed their players being carted off the field one by one.

"When he was a freshman, he kept knocking kids out of practice when they would go full speed," Eric said. "The coaches asked him why he didn't injure the other team's players. He said, 'We play each other four times as much [in practice].' He was able to start as a sophomore."

Now heading into his senior year, Powell – who had gone relatively unnoticed – has now blipped loudly on the radar screen.

"Washington State sends me letters now, Idaho sends me letters along with Mizzou and Utah," said Sawyer. "Utah is showing interest and I'm going down to Utah's camp on Monday actually. It's a one-day camp."

Sawyer picked up his first Division I offer from Oregon State after blowing up on the Oregon NTFC scene with a co-MVP award and a whopping 124.44 SPARQ rating, placing him among the top athletes in the nation.

"I got the seventh best SPARQ rating in the nation and the best rating in the nation out of all the linebackers," he said. "It was a good day for me from beginning to end. I ran the forty and recorded a 4.57, which made me really happy. After running the forty, I ran a 4.25 shuttle and then threw a 38 on the ball throw. I then went and got a 43.2 inch vertical."

Sawyer also got the opportunity to work on his game.

"We did speed drills to see how fast we were, and then they taught us position specific drills. I got a chance to really know Oregon State's linebacker coach, and he gave me some tips on how to improve my game. I thought that was pretty cool and he really liked me. We got a chance to do some one-on-ones with some tight end and running back recruits in coverage and stuff."

Following the Oregon State invite camp, Sawyer received the news he was looking for when Beaver head coach Mike Riley extended him his first Division I offer.

"I was so excited when they offered me," he said. "Coach Riley is a really cool guy, and he has a really good program and it's always been my dream to go play football somewhere. Just to kind of see that dream unfold in front of me is unreal. I'm just excited that I have the opportunity to go and play somewhere."

Sawyer is a team captain and three-year starter at Washington's Richland High School, where Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore's father Tom is the offensive coordinator, Apparently, Sawyer will be introduced to the Boise State coaching staff sometime in the near future.

In his junior season, Sawyer had about 115 tackles and one interception. Although a defensive specialist, he is being groomed for the offensive side of the ball this coming season. At his size (6 feet 1 inch and 205 pounds) with his 4.57 speed, that provides his coaches with a lot of good options offensively.

"On defense, I only play linebacker," Sawyer said. "On offense I play running back, and my coaches are helping me to learn how to play tight end and I also play fullback. They just kind of like to move me around."

The Washington all-conference linebacker's endurance better match his top national SPARQ rating. Next season, he doesn't expect to ever come off the football field.

"Last year I was just special teams and defense, and that's kind of how it's been the past two seasons," he said. "This next year they plan on keeping on the field the whole time."

Sawyer, who is LDS, does plan on serving a mission. He recently received a call from Coach Reynolds of BYU, who recruits the Washington area.

"Well, Coach Reynolds has come down and visited me at my school," Sawyer said. "I just got a call from Coach Reynolds, who let me talk to the outside linebackers coach [Coach Poppinga], and they seemed really interested in me. I was really excited that they called. They asked me if I was going to be coming down to any of their camps, which I am.

"When I talked to Coach Poppinga, he talked about my SPARQ performance at the Nike Combine," continued Sawyer. "He said he is really excited to see me at BYU's next summer camp that I'll be coming to. He said he liked my game film and wants to find out what kind of person and player I am and get to know me."

While at BYU's summer camp, Sawyer will have the opportunity to earn a Cougar scholarship offer if he performs well. Having grown up a BYU fan his entire life, it's a do-or-die situation and a time to shine.

"I really like BYU and they've been my favorite school since I was younger," Sawyer said. "I just really want to come and show the BYU coaches what I can do. I'm a bit nervous, but at the same time I know I can do well. I'm just excited for the opportunity to go up there and meet the coaches and show them what I can do."

Sawyer hopes he'll have another scholarship offer by the time he leaves Provo.

"I'm definitely hoping they'll put the trigger. BYU is my favorite school and I've watched them play forever. I've been up on campus a few times and I love the environment. BYU has a great program and a winning tradition and the coaches are great men."

Now blowing up Nike Camps, posting national top SPARQ ratings and having college coaches inquiring about him and wanting his services, Sawyer can look back and be grateful for one thing.

"Well, I'm glad I don't play soccer anymore!" he said with a laugh. "I guess I'm glad my dad dragged me out to play football that day. I think I've learned to trust my dad."

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