"Cornell is a very explosive, dynamic player," Rose head coach David Wojtecki said. "We know that when we get the ball in his hands special things are going to happen, especially in big games. In the playoffs this year, the first game he had three touchdowns, the second playoff game he had five touchdowns. It seemed like every time we got him the ball at that point, something good happened for us… If we get into a jam, the ball is going to go to him."
Although Rose is a program with a rich football tradition in the highest classification in the state, Powell was able to become an integral part of its offense shortly after arriving on campus as a freshman. He started at receiver and was the backup quarterback.
"He's made extreme improvements as a freshman to a sophomore," Wojtecki said. "Not just playing wise, but attitude and work ethic have gotten better since his freshman year."
That improvement helped Powell snag 47 passes for 1,228 yards and 21 touchdowns during his sophomore campaign.
Clemson, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Mississippi, North Carolina, and NC State have extended Powell scholarship offers. Meanwhile, schools like LSU have inquired.
"We think he's going to be more highly recruited than Kentavius [Street] was just because he is a skill player," Wojtecki said.
Powell's prospects forced UNC to break one of its usual guidelines.
"[Dan Disch] told me they don't really recruit sophomores this early," Wojtecki said. "But he told me they want him, so they're going to recruit him now."
Backing that statement up, Disch invited Powell, a sophomore, to UNC's Junior Day in March.
"It was great," Powell said. "The coaches showed me love up there. And I liked the atmosphere and they had a nice field, too.
"It's a good school. They're real good in basketball, obviously, and this year they had a beast at tight end. They won their bowl game, so obviously the program is going in the right direction."
That visit was sandwiched between two trips to NC State – a January junior day and a spring practice a couple of weekends ago.
"The campus is great, the football program is good, the coaches are encouraging, and their strength program is good," Powell said. "I like the freshman dorms there, too."
Powell plans to camp at both UNC and NC State this summer.
The two in-state rivals have emerged as early favorites for Powell.
"NC State and UNC are the only ones that have been pushing hard," Powell said.
Powell is a three-sport star at Rose. He was named Eastern Carolina Conference MVP in basketball as a sophomore after averaging 20.8 points, six rebounds, and two steals a game. He also excels in track-and-field… Powell grew up an Alabama fan.