COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State defensive back Tyvis Powell held the distinction to be the first player to commit to Ohio State after the departure of then coach Jim Tressel and many people were not familiar with the three-star recruit out of Bedford (Ohio).
As a true freshman it was not uncommon at Ohio State practice to hear cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs yelling in the direction of Powell, trying to motivate the young player and get him ready to take the next step.
Fast forward a year and a position change to safety and the future is bright for Powell who now is firmly in the mix at safety after playing in 13 of Ohio State's 14 games in 2013 and in line to be a leader on the defensive side of the ball as the team gets ready for the start of the 2014 season.
"As for my development, just really coming out there and trying to be aggressive on defense, especially when we face adverse situations," Powell said on Saturday during Ohio State's Student Appreciation Day at the WHAC. "I feel like it is up to me to come back and make some more plays and get it done."
Powell has remained hard-nosed in his work ethic and humble in his demeanor as his stock has been on the rise. Powell should be slated along with Vonn Bell to be the starting safeties when the Buckeyes open the season against Navy in Baltimore (Md.) in August. Powell looks forward to the chance of being an 'on the field' leader for the Buckeyes and feels that he can contribute in that role.
"I like to pick everyone's head up and motivate and encourage them to go out there and make plays," Powell said. "It is great that people see something to believe in me."
The defense will have a lot of work to do in the off-season to get back where it was just a couple of seasons ago. Last year the defense surrendered too many big plays, conversions and ultimately had a hand in the end of Ohio State's 24-game winning streak. The Buckeyes have a pair of new defensive coaches with Larry Johnson and Chris Ash and Powell feels that there is a new energy surrounding the defense moving forward.
"The secondary is going to be a whole lot more aggressive, they see things and jump routes now," Powell said. "This year we are going to get to be much more aggressive with coach (Urban) Meyer saying that if we see something, that it doesn't matter now if we get beat deep, if you believe that you see a route to jump it and make a play. I think that everyone is taking that and going with it."
The changes are also being felt with the defensive line and linebackers as well and Powell is excited with what he has seen coming out of the other units.
"I will tell you what, the defensive line is unbelievable right now, they are like my best friends and they are going out there and putting that pressure on the quarterback and allowing the linebackers and secondary to make plays," Powell added.
Saturday's Student Appreciation Day was a chance for the Ohio State football team to open the doors and give back a little to the students that can't get enough football. Selected students went through warm-ups with the team, there were tours of the locker rooms and other parts of the WHAC and fans were treated to a display of dancing by several members of the team after the event had concluded. Powell however stayed on the outside and let others do the dancing while he signed a few autographs.
"I don't do (all the dancing) I will leave that to (my teammates)," Powell joked. "We came out here and tried to put on a show for them."
One thing that was not lost on everyone in attendance is how well the team gets along with one another.
"It is fun here every day but we know when it is time to be serious that we will be very serious and focused. We do like to have fun out here though with each other, we are like brothers," Powell said.
And even with the grind of spring practice there is one goal for this team.
"We are just excited to come out here and play football," Powell said. "That is why we came here, to play football and everyone, and I mean everybody, is getting better. There has been a tremendous improvement in all of the players and just as long as we keep that going into the offseason, we should be straight when the season comes along."