"When he first gets to college, he's going to have to use his speed and arm length to not get tied up with bigger linemen. But we know he can get to 240 or 250."
One of three Division I caliber seniors on the Wolverines' '05 roster led on offense by running backs Aaris Reed (Akron commit) and Pha' Terrell Washington (Maryland), Powell anchored the defense. His 50 tackles, including ten sacks and 18 tackles for loss, earned him all-conference honors.
"Darius is so explosive on the field," Zaccarelli said. "He's runs ‘4.6.' He's quick out of the blocks. He'd play a wide ‘five' for us, which gives us an advantage on the rush end. It's his speed and his arm length – a lot of blocked passes."
Powell was in the middle of a growth spurt during the '04 season. And after flying under the radar, by April he had quickly picked up offers from several quality schools including UNC.
He and his father, Rico, made visits to Michigan State, Boston College and Syracuse, but they both fell in love with Carolina the first time around.
"That's dad's favorite school," Powell said. "I used to like Maryland's basketball team, but I had a change of heart. And I always liked the UNC football program, too. Even though they were struggling, I can tell they're getting better."
Almost immediately, they returned to Chapel Hill for another look around.
"He went back the second time and was planning on taking a second trip to Syracuse," Zaccarelli said. "But I was taking a group of kids down to Carolina that weekend, and Darius wanted to go back again with us. After the third time, Darius said, ‘This is the place for me.' That was back in June and he never wavered since."
"I was impressed with the academics out of all of the other school that had offered," Powell added. "Then after that, it was the players. Everybody felt like family down there." Powell verbally committed to UNC on June 19 and made his pledge binding on Signing Day on Feb. 1.
With his decision behind him, he concentrated solely on school and football last fall, and he rang up the numbers on the field: 68 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 1 field goal block, 1 punt block, 1 punt return for touchdown; on his 8-3 squad that fell to the eventual state champions in the state playoffs.
Stay tuned for Part II coming soon on InsideCarolina.com.