St. Thomas redshirt freshman quarterback Amari Powell has an important appointment scheduled upon the team’s return to campus following Saturday’s Pioneer Football League game at San Diego.
Win or lose, Powell will find an appropriate time to head for O’Shaughnessy Stadium, where he will sit down on the field and take 30 minutes to reflect on the happenings of the just-concluded week.
The ritual has been in place since the third week of the season, following the Tommies’ 45-13 loss at Harvard, during which Powell threw a pair of interceptions and was replaced by true freshman Tak Tateoka.
Powell lost the starting job to Tateoka the following week due to his penchant for turnovers, only to return to the field following a season-ending injury to Tateoka on October 14 in a loss at Drake. Powell has performed well in his “second chance” to lead the Tommies’ offense, and said his postgame meditations at O’Shaughnessy have proven invaluable.
“Just submerse myself in my feelings and emotions,” Powell said. “It’s been super-enlightening for me, just making me think about what I want and what I want to do. It’s been a blessing to be able to do that. I think college is about figuring out yourself — who you are and your identity.
“As much as I thought it was just going to be a football thing, it has helped me so much off the field; how life is up and down, but you have people in your corner you can always rely on.”
Ordinarily, Powell’s time of reflection concludes with a long phone call to his mom and dad in Valencia, Calif., but his parents, grandparents, younger brother and one of his high school coaches will be attending the game. The idea of putting on a show for family and friends is not part of Powell’s makeup.
“I kind of found a groove these past two weeks,” Powell said, “so just making sure I’m doing things a little bit better week by week. Keep pushing the guys to be the best we can be. Winning would provide the best moment.”
Head coach Glenn Caruso said Powell’s inability to “take care of the football” led to the quarterback change after the Harvard game. Powell has done a better job of late of making good decisions and dealing with the physical aspects of the game.
“What they tell us here is to think of the football as your child,” Powell said, “and you wouldn’t want anybody else taking that away from you. So just thinking about that, and how the football I have (in his hands) is the program.
“So it’s been huge to think about taking care of the program when it is in my hands.”
Powell, who won the starting job in an open competition prior to the start of the season, admits that he went through a tough period when the change was made so early in the season.
“But I also knew for the betterment of the team I knew I had to make sure that Tak was OK,” he said. “And still being a leader, still being vocal. But also, for me reflecting on it, other people were there for me as well, talking to me, making sure my head was good.
“I really got into building my foundation on faith. That helped me get through it.”
While Powell said he will appreciate the warm breezes that await him in San Diego, no part of him regrets his decision to travel so far away from home to play football and attend college.
“I think I needed it, this isolation, just figuring myself out,” he said. “Figuring life out for myself instead of relying on my parents for everything. This is a big stepping stone in my life.”
Powell believes he is a better quarterback than he was at the start of the season.
“One, just building confidence,” he said. “Two, mentally has been a huge step for me. And I think my leadership; I think I’m starting to step into a role that I can see myself starting to get used to.”
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