The three year saga of "is he" or "isn't he" for Jerrell Powe is now over.
I wrote an article two and a half weeks ago called SEC Football: Let Jerrell Powe Play for Goodness Sake. Apparently, they listened.
The former five star defensive tackle from Waynesboro, MS was declared eligible by the SEC Monday afternoon, a wait that's long been overdue not only for Ole Miss fans, but for Jerrell Powe and his family. He definitely will add some depth to an already very impressive defensive line that includes two players, Greg Hardy and Peria Jerry, already included in many media service's Mock Draft first round for 2009.
The University actually announced the decision by a press release today on the official athletic website.
Jerrell Powe has been looking to become eligible since 2005 after being sent to Hargrave and being denied by the NCAA three times, this including when he attempted to enroll as a freshman. The NCAA in August 2007 released the case and ordered for Powe to attend one year at Ole Miss as a student to decide whether he could attempt to balance being a student and an athlete. There have been reports of a 2.8 GPA for his school year.
Pete Boone, the athletic director, had this to say about Powe:
"Jerrell has been a student at Ole Miss for the last year, and has met academic requirements as established by the NCAA and the University of Mississippi. We are pleased that Jerrell will now become a student-athlete. It has been a long process and it is now time to move forward."
Coach Houston Nutt also commented on the decision:
"We are excited that Jerrell is getting this opportunity and will be able to join the team for preseason practice."
Jerrell Powe also spoke to the media and had this to say following his three year wait ended:
“I am deeply grateful to Ole Miss and to the SEC for the opportunity to be admitted here and to prove that I can succeed academically and on the football field. I have always had faith and a plan and both are beginning to show results.
“Through God’s help and help from Ole Miss professors, counselors and coaches, I have successfully completed my first year of school at Ole Miss. However, my journey is just beginning. I have to continue to work hard in the classroom, and I still must prove myself on the football field in the SEC.
“Therefore, I have decided that I don’t deserve to give interviews yet, and that I will not give any interviews until such time as I have proven myself both in the classroom and on the football field. The teachers and the coaches will make that decision for me.
“Thank you for your interest in me. However, there are other Ole Miss student-athletes who are more deserving of your time and interest since they have already proven themselves.
As I've went across the message boards, I have found some fans being mostly positive, giving congratulations, but the majority of opposing fans ridiculing him, calling him names and making fun.
I have to not stereotype any university due to their unsympathetic fans. This isn't a story just on Ole Miss, this is a story on a kid (now man) who has fought through adversity, controversy, and everything imaginable to have a chance to play football. He has done everything he can do, and he should be respected for it, not ridiculed.
He could've certainly given up by now, or he could've gotten into legal troubles like a lot of other high profile athletes. He never gave up and his determination is showing results. Whether I was an Ole Miss fan or not, I would certainly respect a kid who's done and been through everything Jerrell has.
For those who say, "Who cares? He's three years out of football, he's not going to make an immediate difference." Take a moment and flash back to last year, when in early August, Jerrell Powe was given a waiver by the NCAA to practice with Ole Miss while waiting on an announcement of his eligibility.
Not even being in much great shape, Powe put on the first string jersey after only two practices.
Not to mention the fact that you know the kid has infinite determination to play football, and undoubtedly will make something out of every opportunity.
Today, he has lost 40 pounds, down to 341, and is looking to add depth to the most talented position core on the Ole Miss team.
I can just see Powe now at pregame Memphis, leading the crowd on the jumbotron in the traditional "Are You Ready?" speech.
The kid has and is making good decisions, good grades (2.8 GPA), and will be coming to a football field near you soon. If there's every a story of character, you just found one with this guy.