Powell Emerging As Playmaker, Leader

The Ohio State football team had plenty of questions to answer on defense heading into the 2014 season, but one of them has been answered in the solid play of sophomore safety Tyvis Powell. Added maturity has turned him into one of a leader in the secondary.

Tyvis Powell turned back the clock last weekend at Penn State.

The Ohio State sophomore safety, who at one time dreamed of being the next Jerry Rice before switching to defense in high school, made a picture-perfect diving catch of a Christian Hackenberg throw late in the third quarter of OSU’s 31-24 double-overtime win in Happy Valley.

“I thought about my old days, throwing a diamond up and catching it perfect. I still got it a little bit,” said Powell, who made a diamond sign with his hands like a wide receiver waiting to catch a pass.

The interception at Penn State was Powell’s second of the season, but it was certainly not the most memorable pick of his career. That honor goes to the game-winning interception last season at Michigan. With 32 seconds left on the Michigan Stadium scoreboard and the Buckeyes ahead 42-41, Powell stepped in front of a receiver and picked off a Devin Garnder two-point conversion pass attempt to seal OSU’s victory.

Just that fast, Powell went from the nickelback on a struggling Ohio State defense to a Buckeye hero.

“I get a bunch of tweets about it every day,” Powell said during Ohio State’s preseason camp. “I get reminded about it every day, (but) it’s just definitely time to get out there and … make more plays.”

Of course, things did not end well for the Buckeyes after leaving Ann Arbor. Powell was a part of a secondary that struggled in a Big Ten Championship Game loss to Michigan State and against Clemson in a defeat in the Orange Bowl. Chris Ash was hired during the offseason from Arkansas to be OSU’s new co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach, and Powell moved from a part-time player in the nickel package to a starter at safety.

Powell said prior to the season that he had grown very comfortable in Ash’s aggressive defense.

“I’m very confident about it. I know exactly what I’m supposed to do,” Powell said. “I know all the checks and adjustments that’s supposed to be made. Right now, I feel like I can go out and be able to get the defense to play the right defense against any formation we see right now.”

That confidence has been on full display for members of Ohio State’s coaching staff and the Buckeyes themselves. OSU cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said Powell’s development has much to do with his growing maturity.

“Tyvis’ growth is directly related to his maturity, his growth as a man,” Coombs said. “He’s a leader right now on the defense. He’s a leader in the back end and as he continues to take on more in that role it enhances everybody around him.”

Powell credited the safeties who played ahead of him last season, Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett, for helping guide him.

“Just growing up and seeing (them), I just knew that I would have to step into that role at some point in time. I was sitting back and watching the things that they did, and I take some of the things that they did and do them now. They still work,” Powell said.

Powell rates second on the team with 40 tackles and has added one stop of loss, a pass breakup and three passes defended. He still has plenty of time to create some more special moments as a Buckeye. The sophomore from Bedford, Ohio, is having a blast in the meantime.

“I love to play football. This is what I love to do,” Powell said. “I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than this. That’s just my motivation. The sun is shining. I get to play with the players that I love and grew to love. We’re all after the same goals this year. It’s just fun to me.”

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