Junior year in high school in Wichita, Kan., and Ben Powers was a mere 6-foot-2, 240-pound just-another-guy on the offensive line.
His belief was he could become more than that. No, that he would become more than that. His elders were always taller than 6-2 so he was just waiting for the growth spurt.
Unfortunately, when it comes to recruiting and the state of Kansas, you’re not really afforded that luxury. If you’re not well known by your junior season, you’re most likely out in the cold and desperately trying to get your name out there.
Quinn Mittermeier can relate. The Oklahoma offensive lineman was a full qualifier out of high school just like Powers. Mittermeier, from Topeka, had virtually zero interest from any big-time college football programs.
He didn’t quit on himself. He decided to head to Butler Community College in Kansas and make his own name. One year there, and he was scooped up by OU offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and signed during the summer.
It’s, like Yogi Berra said, déjà vu all over again. Powers believed he could be something more than a Division II football player. He bet on himself, and he won when he committed to the Sooners on Monday afternoon.
“I knew I was capable of playing at the Division I level,” Powers said. “I didn’t see myself being at a Division II school for four, five years. There’s a lot of pride (decision paying off), but you just have to be happy with yourself.”
The gamble was a risky one as even at this time last month Powers had zero offers. Kansas State jumped first Nov. 10, and from there, other schools followed suit.
His offer from OU came during his official visit two weeks for the TCU game. Strangely enough, Powers’ next visit would be to the Horned Frogs last weekend. Within hours, though, of being in Fort Worth, Powers knew where he was going.
“Within the first two hours, I knew TCU was not the place for me,” Powers said. “It’s a great place, but it’s not for me.”
The Sooners clinched their ninth Big 12 championship under Bob Stoops on Saturday night, and Stoops and Bedenbaugh made the trip to Kansas on Monday morning. They thought they would be trying to convince Powers to join. They didn’t know they were just sealing the deal.
“I knew it was going to happen,” Powers said. “They have great coaching, and the way the team is a family means a lot. There’s a great atmosphere at their games.”
Powers said Stoops was so excited he threw both of his hands up in the air and did a double fist pump. OU needed one more interior lineman for the 2016 class. Mission accomplished.
As discussed before, Powers is not the traditional junior college recruit. He doesn’t have to be an immediate impact player although there’s nothing from stopping him from being that guy at 6-5 and more than 300 pounds.
If Powers needed any more evidence about OU being the choice, it occurred Saturday night. With TCU already having wrapped up its rain-soaked double overtime win against Baylor on Friday night, Powers was being treated by the Horned Frogs.
But what he was trying to pay attention toward was the Bedlam showdown happening in Stillwater, saying it was on one TV in the back of the room the recruits were at, and he did all he could to catch bits and pieces.
Powers describes himself as a late bloomer and somebody who loves to run block. He’s made improvements, he feels, every year, and now he’s ready for the next step.
“I did not know it was going to end like this, but I’m sure glad that it will be,” said Powers about bypassing Division II schools and now landing at OU.
Powers will be a mid-year enrollee for the Sooners and will sign with OU in two weeks.