Big lineman leads Chargers

O. Perry Walker-New Orleans made it to the state championship game last year only to fall short to longtime powerhouse John Curtis.<br><br>The Chargers lost four starters from that squad to major Division-I programs, including three to LSU. But there is plenty of talent returning for coach Frank Wilson to make another run, including with massive offensive tackle Cleveland Powell IV (6-8, 330).

Walker will have to replace its passing game in 2003 after graduating its talent at wide receiver. But with Powell and their running backs returning, the Chargers could contend once more in Class 4A.

"We're going to be young," Powell told Tiger Rag. "But it's going to come together for us. We still have our running backs coming back so we'll be alright. Our goal is to get back to the Superdome and win it all."

Since the Chargers have had some time to shake off their close loss to John Curtis, Powell said the team has regained focus during its off-season workouts.

"We've been doing a lot of running and lifting," he said. "We've been working real hard as a team. Personally, I've been working out a lot. I'm working on my quickness right now. It's good but it can be better."

With Powell's imposing size, many would assume he was an overpowering run blocker. However, it's just the opposite.

"Pass blocking is my strength," he said. "I kick back good and I think I have a good understanding of what the defensive end is going to do. I anticipate well."

When asked about some of the top schools he is hearing from the most, he quickly replied, "Oregon, LSU, Mississippi State, UCLA, Alabama, Colorado, Duke, Tennessee and Arkansas."

Do any of them stand out at this point?

"I like Oregon a lot," he said. "I was reading on the Internet about their academics and how they have a lot to offer with computers. That's what I want to get into."

Sonny's View: If Powell's name does not ring a bell, maybe Cleveland Johnigan will. He had his named legally changed to Powell recently. Offensive tackles that can protect the quarterback on the ends are a hot commodity in college football. and they do not come any bigger than Powell. If he can improve his quickness and get a little more aggressive, he will challenge for Louisiana's top offensive tackle prospect for 2004. When asked if O. Perry Walker's current ties to LSU could play a role in his final decision, he said "maybe so." Look for LSU to emerge as one of his top choices once his former prep teammates Craig Davis, Darrell Johnson and Dominique Cooper move to Baton Rouge over the summer.


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