Powell Leaves His Mark

Though his senior season ended prematurely, UNC pledge Tyler Powell will forever be a part of Midlothian (Va.) Cosby history.

Powell is a member of the senior class that helped Cosby to its first ever playoff berth. Cosby, which opened its doors in 2006, missed the playoffs in 2011 – Powell's sophomore year – despite a 9-1 record.

"It was certainly a great experience," Powell said. "Being able to go down as the first team that went to the playoffs in Cosby history is a pretty cool thing. It was just a big deal for all of us. The entire team worked towards that since our freshman years. It was a pretty exciting experience."

Powell started both ways for Cosby, lining up at just about every position along the offensive and defensive lines. On the year, the 6-foot-3, 254-pounder totaled approximately 50 tackles, including 18 for a loss and 8.5 sacks, plus forced four fumbles. He also returned a recovered fumble for a touchdown.

Powell's senior accomplishments helped earn him a spot in both the Offensive-Defense All-American and Chesapeake Bowls.

"That's real exciting, especially the Chesapeake Bowl because it's not a national game but it's a regional game," Powell said. "The guys I'm going to be playing with on the D-line [in the Chesapeake Bowl] are Ricky Walker, Andrew Brown, Jalyn Holmes, and Derrick Nnadi. It's going to be exciting to play with those guys. It's going to be like a college game, because the talent level is so high.

"The All-American game is going to be a blast, because I'll be playing in Orlando over New Years. It's just going to be a great experience to get to know some of the guys I'm going to be playing with and against the next four years."

Woodbridge (Va.) Hylton upended Cosby in the first round of the VHSL 6A North Region Playoffs on Friday night. Throughout the contest, Powell's path crossed with four-star, '15 prospect Matthew Burrell.

"It was fun matching up against a guy who I know will be a high level player at the next level," Powell said.

Less than a week before lining up across from each other, Powell and Burrell were among a group of highly coveted Virginians rubbing shoulders in Kenan Stadium watching UNC defeat Virginia. The group also included five-star '15 prospects Ricky DeBerry and Tim Settle.

"I definitely want to get big name kids to come play with us [at UNC]," Powell said. "These next couple of years, these recruiting classes are going to be big for us. So yeah, I was making a recruiting pitch, you might say.

"But I was also just talking to them just trying to build relationships, because even if I don't play with them at the college level it's good to have those relationships. I'm not the kind of guy that wants to pressure someone to go to a school.

"But they asked me why I picked UNC and what I loved about it. It was good to have conversations with those guys and help them understand why I made my decision to give them something to relate to."

In addition to the game against UVa, Powell has been in attendance when UNC hosted East Carolina and Boston College this season.

"The atmosphere is awesome," Powell said. "It's not absolutely crazy, but you definitely know everybody is excited. When you go down there, the whole campus is packed with people that just love you and just love being down there. It's a real good feeling, because you get a real big family feel. It's just a fun environment to be in – everybody is enjoying themselves and having a good time."

UNC wraps up the regular season with back-to-back home games against Old Dominion and Duke. Powell figures to make at least one of the two.

As everyone with a vested interest in UNC knows, the team didn't get off to an ideal start in 2013. But after four straight wins, the Tar Heels can become bowl eligible with a win Saturday.

"I feel like that Miami game even though we lost, it was a huge confidence booster," Powell said. "The team realized we can play with those guys and they were a top ten team when we played them. I feel like the confidence has just built each week.

"And also our defense has played better and better each week, which is a big help for us because the ACC is a pretty solid offensive conference. I think they're meshing more as a team with the new coaches."

In particular, Kareem Martin has twice been named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week this season, and has earned national recognition as well. Most recently, he was honored following his performance against Pitt on Saturday.

"It definitely shows that UNC showcases its defensive lineman," Powell said. "Everybody is going to look at UNC and think D-linemen, because people are dubbing it ‘D-line U.' It definitely brings prestige for that position group."

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