Flash back to the summer of 2006.
Collierville, TN, true freshman Preston Powers and Madison, MS, true frosh Wesley Phillips began a competition to see who would replace veteran Sidney McLaurin as the deep snapper for the Rebel football team.
Powers won the close battle and did an admirable job - by all accounts - for 12 games during the '06 campaign.
"It was a big step coming in straight out of high school and playing in the SEC," said the 6-0, 240-pounder. "I had 12 pretty good games and have that under my belt, but I know I have to keep improving. I was surprised I won the job, but I knew there was an opening here and Ole Miss is always where I wanted to play."
He feels he can do better the second time around, but Phillips is still in the picture battling him for the job and he says he can take nothing for granted.
"Wesley is a very good snapper. The difference in us is not very much at all. I know he could do it too so I have to keep competing with him all the way through - every day," he explained. "Lastr year, our competition went back and forth right up to the first game. I expect the same this year."
Powers confessed to having some "nerves" last season.
"You definitely get nervous. There is a big difference in snapping in front of 1,000 people in high school and 90,000 at LSU," he laughed. "Last year, every game brought out the butterflies, but I knew I had a job to do so I just went out there and did it.
"I hope I am less nervous this year, but I doubt I will be."
Why? Because a deep snapper is only on the field a few times a game and his effort is critical. One bad snap can cost the team - that's been battling for 60 minutes every play - a game.
"It's an important job and it's a precise job that has no margin for error," he continued. "You have to get it right every time and there's no room for mistakes."
Powers avoided critical mistakes in 2006, but he says he wasn't perfect by any means.
"I have to work on the accuracy of the punt snaps. I had times last year that I pulled the snap either to the left or the right and it caused (Punter) Rob (Park) to have to adjust his steps and routine," he noted. "You have to put the ball right into a punter's hands so you don't knock off their rhythm or timing. They have a precise job too and you don't want to alter their mechanics chasing a snap."
Powers feels he was more on target in spring training, but he will continue working on it until he perfects the process as much as possible.
"I struggled in the spring game a little, but I had a solid spring and feel I'm getting close to being in a better groove," Powers added.
Preston said he's comfortable in his coverage responsibilities.
"It's 10 times more physical than it was in high school, but I did OK and was able to handle the physical side of it OK," he said. "I think I will be better at coverage next year because I'm a lot stronger right now and will be around 245 in August. I learned how to avoid contact better as the season progressed."
Powers said he will be doing the same thing every other Rebel is doing in the offseason - lifting, conditioning and honing his craft.
"Wesley and I will snap a lot this summer and be sharp when August practice rolls around. There's no reason we won't be better next year than we were in 2006," Powers closed.
The vital job of snapping for placements and punts is in the sure hands of Preston Powers and good friend Wesley Phillips.
Expect it to be a sure part of the Rebel team in 2007.
Preston Powers update -
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