"And then track has really helped me focus on my explosion."
After Midlothian (Va.) Cosby's first round exit in the VHSL 6A playoffs, Powell immediately jumped to wrestling. He ended the season with a 35-6 record and a fifth place finish in the VHSL 6A State Championships
"I had a kind of a controversial semi-final match and the call didn't go my way," Powell said.
A week after that final wrestling match, Powell placed fourth in indoor shot put with a 51-foot-4 effort.
Powell is in the midst of the outdoor track season, participating in the shot put and discus. Although the season won't conclude for another month, Powell has already made waves. He recently broke Cosby's record in both shot put (57'11") and discus (161'1").
"Hopefully that will put me up there and give me a shot to win the state championship," Powell said. "It's pretty cool to be able to play the next level in football, be in the 100-win club for wrestling, and then have two records in track."
Despite competing for three different teams since the football season concluded, Powell has found time to significantly bulk up in preparation for his collegiate football career. He says he's now carrying 275 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame. He hovered between 245 and 255 during the football season.
"I've just been able to focus more on working out and eating the way I need to," Powell said. "And since I'm not burning so many calories like I did during wrestling, I can really put on that weight that I need to put on."
The workout routine that Powell follows is the one UNC's strength and conditioning staff sends all its signees.
"I've seen improvements," Powell said. "I've gotten a lot stronger and in a lot better shape. It has really helped me and I really enjoy it."
Contributing to Powell's enjoyment is his familiarity with the workout.
"I'm doing almost the exact same stuff I've been doing the past four years," Powell said. "The guy that I train with, he was the head strength and conditioning coach at [University of Richmond] and he worked with a couple NFL teams. So he's been giving me the workouts that those type level college programs have been doing. So that kind of gave me an edge on [following UNC's]."
Walt Bell recruited Powell for UNC, secured his verbal commitment last June, and proceeded to be Powell's primary contact. Bell's departure for Arkansas State following UNC's Belk Bowl victory proved to be a blessing in disguise for Powell – it allowed him and his future position coach, Keith Gilmore, to develop a deeper relationship.
"Coach Gilmore picked up where Coach Bell left off," Powell said. "It's been really good being able to build that relationship with my position coach. Sometimes I might talk to him three times a week, but then some weeks we might not talk – it really depends on our schedules."
All the discussion has revolved around Powell primarily playing three-technique tackle within UNC's 4-2-5 defensive scheme. However, Gilmore recognizes that Powell's versatility will allow him to step in at both nose tackle and end in special situations.
"This year, I think they're looking at me to be able to come in and give some of the guys a blow," Powell said. "My goal is to earn a starting spot by the end of the season, but I really expect to be playing a lot this year."
Powell says it has already been determined that he'll be shouldering the expectations of sporting No. 95 at UNC.
"They allowed me to choose between a couple [numbers] and I really figured that since Kareem [Martin] was the biggest contributor on the D-line last year," Powell said, "I wanted to wear a number of someone who put up big numbers and has done big things."
Powell, who is a qualifier according to the NCAA Clearinghouse, will enroll in the second summer semester at UNC. He plans to major in Exercise and Sports Science.
"I really want to become either a strength and conditioning coach or athletic trainer," Powell said. "That's something I'm interested in and UNC has a great program."
Powell received his roommate assignment the other day and he'll represent the state of Virginia in a diverse quartet that also includes Jared Cohen (Maryland), Avery Edwards (North Carolina), and Caleb Samuel (Georgia).