When looking through the regular season tallies for junior defensive tackle Jerrell Powe, it's easy to see why NFL scouts are drooling over his unmistakable pro-potential.
The former five-star Parade All-American from Wayne County stands 6-foot-2 and a slimmer 320 pounds. In 12 game appearances - nine starts - he's accumulated 30 total tackles and tied for the team lead in tackles for loss with 11.
His breakout second season certainly turned some heads nationally. Powe was named second team All-SEC by the Associated Press earlier this month.
"It hit me by surprise," he said of the selection. "I really, truly don't pay attention to all that. It's a great accomplishment. I think I'm well-deserving."
What a rapid rise it's been.
Some 30 pounds ago, many wondered whether Powe would ever realize his great potential as an interior force along the Ole Miss defensive line. As he'll admit, Powe has a love for food.
But through some personal accountability – and steering clear of his beloved catfish – Powe is well on his way to a fulfilling a promising gridiron career.
"Powe's a guy who can cook. So it was real hard for him to lose that weight," fellow defensive lineman Marcus Tillman said. "It took a lot of discipline. You'll come in (to his house) and he'll be cutting up shrimp to put in a salad or he's baking something. He can throw down in the kitchen."
Wait. Reverse that.
Maybe a life filled with Sunday football isn't what's up ahead in Powe's future. I mean, when asking around the Ole Miss locker room, it seems we have the second coming of Emeril Lagasse on our hands.
"I cook a little bit of everything. I fry a lot of fish and cook for a lot of guys," Powe said. "I like to grill a lot and cook some jambalaya. A lot of the guys like my pasta salad. I cook mostly for the defensive linemen. I'll cook random nights and have those guys come over. Probably what I hear them talk the most about is the catfish and jambalaya."
For those unaware, Powe isn't some fly-by-night cook working around some pots and pans. He's got his own unique sets of recipes, specialties and styles in the kitchen.
Anyone in need of some suggestions for that all-important holiday family feast? Well, Powe's gotcha covered.
"I'd probably cook some jambalaya and rice. Maybe some catfish and garlic toast. I'd even make some fish and spaghetti if I had to," he said. "I always use Lawry's (seasoning). You gotta always use some Lawry's. Some Lawry's and a little bit of lemon juice. I use some Tony's too."
And for those still skeptical types, junior defensive end Kentrell Lockett recommends that all heed to Powe's culinary advice.
"Powe and Ted (Laurent) are always having this battle about weight," Lockett said. "So we were in the weight room one day, and he told Ted, ‘You can't come to my house, because I'm frying fish, barbecuing ribs, I've got some sweet potato casserole.' I was like, ‘Powe, you were doing all this today?'
"He said he cooked like that every day. I'm going over there. I didn't know he cooked like that at all. That's the place to be. It's like a restaurant every day."
Kidding aside, Powe has known his way around a kitchen for most of his life. Growing up, he learned the finer points of cooking from his mom, a ‘real good cook' by his account.
As the years went by, Powe began preparing meals for his older brothers. By the time high school rolled around, he had become the house's Chef de cuisine.
"I've always been cooking. I'm a big fan of eating, so I was always cooking early," said Powe. "I used to cook for my older brothers and them. When my mom would go to work, I'd be the one to cook breakfast or something. When I got older, in the ninth or tenth grade, I was the cook. My mom would come home and she wouldn't even have to cook. I had already fried up some chicken with macaroni."
But while advanced in his skills as a master chef, Powe's not making any plans to quit his day job.
"It's something I take pride in," he said of cooking. "My mom's a real good cook, so I was watching her for all those years. I guess I've just got it in me."
Cooking with Powe
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