It's standard procedure.
When you sit down with Rebel Defensive Tackle Jerrell Powe, two questions are required before moving into the meat of an interview.
What is your body weight? The big guy has fought that battle for three years. . .
"I'm between 323-326 with a goal of 320 by August practice. I think I'll make it," said Powe, obviously tired of that question but fielding it with a laugh.
How is the wrist? Jerrell had his wrist surgically repaired after spring training of 2009 and played with it heavily taped last year.
"It's definitely stronger," he said. "I don't have to tape it when I lift any more. I may still tape it for games, but I don't have to tape it to lift and that's an improvement.
"The wrist still hurts if it is bent back a certain way, but I know it's stronger and better."
With that out of the way, it's move-on time, time to talk about the 2010 season and his roles.
First up, as a senior, what role has he taken on as a leader? If you don't know Powe, he's got definite leadership traits. Is he applying them accordingly?
"I am most definitely aware that I am a senior and need to step up as a leader. The coaches have asked that of me and the other seniors and we will handle that," he said. "In the spring, we hadn't established our roles as leaders yet, but now it's coming out. I'm trying to be a vocal leader.
"The guys are responding to me and the other seniors."
Knowing his strong personality, the underclassmen probably have little choice but to take his direction. A good thing for the mental well-being of the team.
On an individual basis, Powe's goal is to become an every-down defensive tackle.
In a lot of instances last season, Powe was taken out of the game in obvious passing situations. He began last spring a mission to be in the game on every down-and-distance.
"I got better in pass rush. I need to do that for our team and for my future," he said. "Who gets paid the most - Albert Haynesworth, who can defend the run and rush the passer, or Ted Washington, who is great against the run and average in the pass rush? Haynesworth signed a $100 million contract. Washington doesn't make that kind of money.
"I know I want to be able to do both on this level and the next level, so I've been working at it. I used to be a good pass rusher, but when I gained all that weight I lost some footwork. I've been working to get that back."
He learned the value of being a dual threat at DT up close and personal from former Rebel teammate and first-round draft pick Peria Jerry.
"Peria can do it all and he was rewarded with a high draft pick because of his ability to rush and defend the run," Powe stated. "I don't think I'm that far off.
"My progression reads are better and that's important. Then you have to have great technique and footwork. Then it gets down to man on man and dominating the guy in front of you. Knowing your opponent is important as well."
Jerrell is the anchor in what many believe could be one of the best defensive fronts the Rebels have had. He's aware of the expectations.
"We hear talk we have a chance to be like the front of 1993, which was a helluva front. We've all looked up the guys who were on that front and they have big shoes to fill, but we are going to try to be the best," he noted. "We are going to have to bring it to equal them, but we think we can get it done."
Powe doesn't think the Rebel front will need any extra motivation, however.
"In the trenches, the responsibility is always there regardless of expectations or not. You have to be the core of your team. It all starts up front and to be a solid team you have to be strong in the core," he explained.
Jerrell feels the defense is in good shape and, despite the defense winning the battle in the spring with the offense, he has faith in the other side of the ball as well.
"They are young up front, but they turned it on at the end of spring. That was good to see. They just have to come together as one," Powe said. "They are working hard in the offseason to get it all together and I think they will be fine. No game is what you would call easy, but the early games shouldn't be as difficult as some of the games down the schedule. I think they will have time to get in a rhythm."
Powe's goals for 2010 are realistic, he feels.
"The main thing is for us to come together as one and show people we can play good football. We're young in a lot of areas, but we think we can be good. We just have to go out there and prove it. From there, we have the same goal as we do every year - get to Atlanta," he closed.
Weight in line? Check.
Wrist OK? Check.
Team goals set? Check.
Individual improvement being worked on? Check.
It appears the stars are lining up correctly for Jerrell Powe to go out with a bang.
That's certainly his intention.
Powe's prowess expanding?
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