When you think about the quintessential college football player, you envision a guy who works hard in the weight room, diligently breaks down film, builds solid relationships with his teammates, and still finds time to excel in the classroom.
These qualities represent what Virginia Tech senior Carlton Powell is all about.
As the NFL Draft approaches, prospective players spend an inordinate amount of time training for the Combine. As result, we sometimes come to view them as a collection of names and statistics.
Powell is something more.
Carlton Powell is a natural leader. He’s willing to go the extra mile for the sake of his team. He makes the players around him better. Given all that, it should be no surprise that he looks up to Packers QB Brett Favre.
“[Farve’s] got a go-get-it attitude—he always plays, and never takes a day off,” said Powell.
A former linebacker in high school, the 6’2”, 301-pound Powell switched to defensive tackle upon enrolling at Virginia Tech. He went on to establish himself as one of the most successful defensive tackles in Hokie history.
Powell finished his career with 104 tackles (21.5 tackles for loss), 5.5 sacks, 30 quarterback pressures, and two forced fumbles. He was named to second team All-ACC as a senior.
That growth couldn’t have occurred without the tutelage of 21-year VT head coach Frank Beamer.
“[Coach Beamer] had us on a tight schedule,” Powell said. “Everyone had mandatory study hall and breakfast check to make sure we were getting up early to go to classes because that first year is real hard for a lot of students.”
The support group of coaches and players undoubtedly helped Powell cope after the shootings at Virginia Tech last spring. Many VT students, meanwhile, found solace in Hokie athletics.
As Powell said, “There was a lot of pressure on us to succeed, but all of the coaches and players came together which made it easier for us.”
Despite the pressure, Powell helped the Hokies finish No. 9 in the AP Poll with an 11-3 record, including a 30-16 win over Boston College in the ACC Championship Game in Jacksonville. Powell described the title game as the best moment of his college career.
“It definitely felt good to get the revenge game against Boston College,” he said. “It was my senior year, we were out there playing for another championship…We stayed out on the field and celebrated long after the game was over.”
With that glory behind him, Powell is now prepared for the next step in his life. He graduated with a degree in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, and will pursue that field when his playing days are over.
For now, though, it’s time to focus on the NFL.
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” he said. “I’m pretty physically prepared. The film speaks for itself, but I just want work hard and compete in the drills and show everybody what I can do.”
With a track record like Powell’s, you can bet the scouts will be paying attention.