Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jerrell Powe finally declared academically eligible

For three years, all Jerrell Powe wanted to do was play football for the University of Mississippi. This fall, he'll finally get that wish.

The Jerrell Powe sage came to an end Monday as the Southeastern Conference deemed the 21-year-old defensive lineman fully eligible to practice and play football this season for the Rebels.

"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," Powe said in a statement. "I have always had faith and a plan, and both are beginning to show results."

For those of you not familiar with this unbelievable story, here's a brief timeline provided by the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

Feb. 2, 2005: Powe, a five-star recruit and one of the nation's most feared defensive lineman, signed with Ole Miss

Aug. 4, 2005:
Powe was declared academically ineligible

Feb. 1, 2006: Powe again signed with Ole Miss after spending a year at the Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia

Aug. 26, 2006: Powe was declared academically ineligible by the NCAA, which contended that Powe had received too much assistance completing his coursework

Aug. 8, 2007: Powe, who was diagnosed with learning disabilities, including dyslexia, re-took courses at his high school and Penn Foster Career School during the year, and then signed with Ole Miss for a third time

Aug. 28, 2007: Powe was declared academically ineligible, but was allowed to receive financial aid and attend classes in Oxford

July 28, 2008:
After Powe completed 24 credit hours over two semesters with a 2.31 GPA, he was declared eligible by the NCAA and will play for Ole Miss this season

I strongly encourage you to read the full article because the short version simply does not do Jerrell Powe's story justice. Coincidentally, I was reading Bruce Feldman's book Meat Market this afternoon, which provides an inside account of Ole Miss recruiting under former coach Ed Orgeron, and Powe's recruitment in particular.

Orgeron, who convinced Powe to play for him despite offers from SEC powerhouses LSU and Auburn, never could have imagined then that it would take three long years for his prized recruit to play a down for the Rebels.

And while Orgeron may not be here to coach him (he was fired after the 2007 season), you can bet that he broke into a smile upon hearing the news.

"He just kept working hard, kept believing, and finally his dream's coming true," said Marcus Boyles, Powe's high school coach. "I couldn't be happier for him. The thing I'm proudest of is that this young man never quit. He got knocked down a few times. People kept saying that it would never happen, never happen, never happen. And finally, it happened."

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