Bloomington, Ind. – As IU's first day of spring practice came to a close, on the surface, it appeared to be business as usual.
After the team wrapped up its nearly three-hour practice on the IU practice fields, a handful of selected players made their way over to the assembled media to talk about the first spring session as well as the health situation with Hoosier Coach Terry Hoeppner.
As has been the case for the last two years, one of the most popular players among the media was Blake Powers, the 6-4, 235-pound senior. But after a couple of years fielding questions about how things were going throwing the ball, now everyone wanted to know about how Powers was adjusting to catching it.
That's because after spending his first four years in Bloomington as a quarterback, Powers made the off-season move to tight end.
"I felt I could help the team (by making the position switch)," Powers said. "I love my group of seniors, I love Indiana, and I wanted to help the team anyway possible."
Powers had always assumed the way he'd help the Hoosier program was with his ability to throw the ball downfield. He did that in record-breaking fashion two years ago, throwing for a school-record 22 touchdowns to go along with 2,305 yards in his first year as starter for then-first-year Coach Terry Hoeppner.
But the smashing encore never happened. He threw for his only touchdown of the season in the opener against Central Michigan, then missed the Ball State and Southern Illinois games with an ankle injury. His absence opened the door for redshirt freshman Kellen Lewis, who came off the bench to account for 316 yards of total offense in his Hoosier debut against Ball State.
While Powers returned two weeks later and started against Connecticut, he struggled through a miserable 14-of-30, 128-yard, one-interception day in a 14-7 loss to the Huskies, and the starting job was Lewis' for the remainder of the campaign.
By the time the 2006 season came to a close, Lewis had thrown for 2,221 yards and 14 touchdowns, rushed for a team-high 421 yards and another five scores, and firmly entrenched himself as the team's quarterback of the future. With only one season of eligibility remaining, Powers' choice appeared to be to either transfer to a I-AA school and play right away, or watch his final season from the sidelines.
But he and the IU coaching staff instead come up with a third option, making a position switch that will likely result in Powers being on the field after all – and in a couple of capacities.
"Blake is such a good football player, we'll get him involved in special teams," IU Assistant Head Coach Bill Lynch said. "He's too good a football player, and he's a big strong guy and we'll see where he best fits."
Offensively that will be at tight end, where he'll likely battle Nick Sexton was the starting job this fall. Powers admits it's been since the 9th grade that he's been out running routes and catching passes, but he showed the sort of athleticism and hands Tuesday that suggests it's an adjustment he's more than capable of making.
"It's actually been pretty smooth," Powers said Tuesday. "As far as running and catching the ball, that's pretty easy for me. The biggest thing I'll have a problem adjusting to is the steps on blocking, all the different techniques, the alignments."
But that figures to come, with time, and Powers still has a shade over five months to get ready for Indiana's season opener against Indiana State. By then, he figures to once again be an integral part of an IU team that has visions of making its first bowl appearance since 1993.
Just like usual.
Blake Offers His Take on Position Switch
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