Powell growing into his position.

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Last updated: 05/20/2014 2:22 AM
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Tyvis Powell Growing Into His Position as Safety, Leader
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you ever want to endear yourself to the whole of the Ohio State fanbase forever, try securing a game-winning interception in the endzone at the end of a game against Michigan.

Tyvis Powell
Photo by Dan Harker
Tyvis Powell

That's what Tyvis Powell did a season ago as a redshirt freshman, stepping in front of Wolverine receiver Drew Dileo and sealing an outrageous 42-41 win for the Buckeyes up in Ann Arbor.

That was Powell as Ohio State's nickel back, basically a cornerback looking for a role. He ended up playing in every game while starting six a season ago. Between the Big Ten Championship Game and the Orange Bowl, however, Powell made the move to safety.

At six-foot-three and 205 pounds, his future was seemingly always at safety, and based on his play this spring, the move has been a good one.

"He's really stood out and he looks like he's got a chance to be a real guy," safeties coach Chris Ash said of Powell this spring. 

"I'm excited about him. The obvious is that he's long, he's tall, he can run. He's got great ball skills, he's a very smart player. He's got a really good football I.Q. Up to this point, Tyvis competes, he's smart, and he's got a little bit of everything."

With all of those qualities that Ash listed, one of the main aspects of Powell's game that the redshirt sophomore wanted to work on was his leadership. With three senior safeties gone from a season ago -- two of whom were captains -- leadership is something that the secondary drastically needs.

"I had a lot of improvement from day one to today," he said after the OSU Spring Game. 

"I think I had a drastic improvement in my game. And especially in my leadership, that's basically what it was really about, me becoming this leader. I feel like I was able to go out there and motivate my team."

For some, leadership is a natural occurrence, and yet for others it requires a constant focus. For Powell, he ended up somewhere in between, but certainly wasn't uncomfortable with the role that he is now enjoying.

"At certain times, leaders know when something needs to be said," he said. 

"The Spring Game was a natural feeling for me, and I knew that at times there were things that needed to be said, and I was able to come through and say the right things."

Like his emergence as a leader, the move to safety has also been agreeable, as it is the same position that he played in high school. It seems that the more things change for Powell, the more they go back to being something he is familiar with.

These changes and this progression have found Powell in a bit of a comfort zone, as he is accustomed to the responsibilities that he has been given. Even Urban Meyer has stated that Powell has locked up a starting safety spot for the Buckeyes this coming season.

However, while Powell may be in a comfort zone, that doesn't mean he is relaxing or taking anything for granted.

"First of all, nothing is guaranteed," he said of Meyer's declaration. 

"That's not going to stop me from working hard this offseason and doing what I did last season and going into the offseason working hard. He might say that now, but there are people coming in and stuff like that. Nothing is guaranteed. All that does is motivate me because I don't want to let him down. I want that to be the truth."

That is exactly the type of talk that you would expect from a player in a position of leadership. Having the mindset that nothing is given to you is how a player goes out and earns his accolades.

When nothing is given to you, that means you have to go out and take everything. That just happens to be the perfect mindset for a defensive back, and it's the same mindset that saw him intercept Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner a season ago, saving a 12-0 season, and earning a spot in Buckeye lore forever.

Oh, and the football from that interception -- does Powell still have it?

"Psshh, you know I do," he said emphatically this spring.

Confidence, skills, leadership and the football from the game-winning interception in the Michigan game. That's about all you can ask for in a Buckeye safety.

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