CLEMSON– Continuing our post-spring dive into the “10 Breakout Players for 2017”, we continue today making the move to wide receiver where the Tigers will look to replace the sure hands of Artavis Scott and the dominance of former Lake Marion standout Mike Williams.
With all eyes firmly placed on the likes of Alabama heart breaker Hunter Renfrow, speedster Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud as the most likely candidates to have a breakout season, our eyes are focused on a rising sophomore who saw plenty of action in his first year in a Tiger uniform–Cornell Powell.
“He is a great young talent,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “I’m glad he got a chance to get a taste of (playing) last year. Obviously, he had some veteran guys in front of him, but he is a guy that is excited to for his opportunity.”
As much as he is excited for his opportunity to see his playing time increase this season with the departures of Williams and Scott, the coaching staff is equally excited to see what he can do in his sophomore season.
In his first season in a Tiger uniform, Powell had 12 receptions for 87 yards over nine games, but it was more the experience of being able to learn how to play the position that he believes will serve him as he continues to battle McCloud for playing time.
“Even when you’re talented you still have to put that much more work in and prove yourself,” Powell said. “Other guys at other programs, they think it’s easy over here. It’s just as hard because we have so many top tier guys from around the country. Every day we come in here and we compete with each other and we make each other better.”
“I learned the game speed, tempo and just technique. That is what really helps you at this level. Everybody is really talented, so you have to have proper technique to outwork the other guy because even if you beat them with speed–they can recover fast on this level.”
The former four-star recruit from Greenville, N.C., Powell believes that it is not only his elite speed, running a 4.64 40-yard dash (timed in high school), that can make him a dangerous weapon for the Tigers this season.
He believes that he brings a different skill set to the position than his mentor and starter at the Tigers’ “2” receiver position–McCloud. And it is the combination of the two of them together than he believes will be a problem for opposing defenses this season.
“I think I bring strength and physicality, and he brings speed and quickness and together we can do some damage,” Powell said.
For Powell to have the kind of impact on the Tigers’ offensive unit that both he, and the coaches, believe that he can have, he understands that first and foremost he must prove himself to the coaches.
“I’m ready for my opportunity whatever it is,” Powell said. “Coach Swinney knows what’s best and knows who can help us best and where. So, I’m just going off him. Wherever he tells me, I’ll go out there and do my best at it.”