Woody would have loved Tyvis Powell

On June 18, 2012 by Grant Edgell

 

As Wayne Woodrow Hayes once famously said, “You can never pay back, but you can always pay forward.” We should have known on June 1st, 2011 that Tyvis Powell fit the mold.

One day after losing legendary head coach Jim Tressel, The Ohio State University picked up a commitment from a young man who wasn’t worried about who his head coach would be for the long-term. He wasn’t concerned with possible NCAA sanctions coming down on the program he loved, or what direction the win-loss trend line may be headed. Tyvis Powell was focused on his dream to wear the Scarlet and Gray, and nothing the NCAA or national media could say was going to stop that from happening.

“I’m not going to take my talents to another state. It’s about dedication to Ohio. I can’t leave. I can’t see myself going out-of-state to play my football.”

Good news for the football program, but the university got more than another in-state recruit when Powell committed.

“The football thing is second. Education is what’s first. That’s really what matters.”

Asked how he could possibly pick Ohio State during a period of time when ‘instability’ would be an understatement, especially over other offers – Michigan State, Cincinnati, Minnesota, West Virginia, among others – his response quickly raised a few eyebrows.

“I didn’t hear anything about the business school going down or falling apart.”

This kid can’t be for real.

Powell proceeded to finish up his high school studies and graduate from Bedford HS early in order to enroll as a freshman at Ohio State back in January rather than wait for June to get here. From there he spent his first college quarter, normally the biggest adjustment period of a young person’s life, earning a 3.5 GPA and proving to a coaching staff that wasn’t around for his recruitment that he belonged.

Alright, fine. Maybe he is for real.

As impressive as it would be, he’s not just a 6’4” 195-pound Division-1 student-athlete who puts the ‘student’ part first. He’s charismatic, well-spoken, always stays positive and has an innocent sense of humor to him. He also puts himself above the nonsense, a trait most his age simply haven’t developed yet.

Yesterday, on Father’s Day, I happened to catch a tweet from him that was nothing less than heartbreaking, yet it wasn’t a surprise coming from Tyvis. While most of us were trying to figure out how to honor our fathers on their special day, be it through lunch or a phone call, Tyvis was keeping his situation in perspective and was confident enough to let it be known.

“Happy father’s day to the man who 4 years ago told me he wish I was never born. Thanks pops I made it without you!!”

Go ahead, take a moment to let those 140 characters or less soak in.

Nobody knows what Tyvis will do on the field during his time at Ohio State. Not me. Not you. Not his teammates. Not even Urban Meyer or Buckeye cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs . It’s far too early to tell. What we do know is that regardless of what cards he’s dealt in the process, he’s going to pay it forward.

About a month ago I was led to a post at the ever-popular Buckeye Planet forum that told a story of a young man who had the opportunity to talk with Tyvis. It wasn’t a chance meeting after this year’s Spring Game. He didn’t track Powell down through Twitter or Facebook. It was Powell’s younger brother who put the two together on the telephone after seeing an article the Plain Dealer did on the young Buckeye cornerback hanging above the kid’s bed. As told by the author of the BP post:

“(Tyvis) asked how my son’s grades were and asked if he wanted to go to OSU. My son said that, ‘of course my dream is to play football at OSU, but if I can’t I still want to go to OSU. I am a Buckeye, football or no football!’ Tyvis told him he felt the same way about OSU. He was OSU bound, football or no football. He, too, was a Buckeye…football or no football.”

Interested in getting a little deeper into the story I found the opportunity to talk with the author of the original Buckeye Planet post, Bill Armstrong, as well as his son Dylan, a freshman offensive lineman at Mentor High School.

Within his post Bill mentioned that, “(He’s) not only a true Buckeye, but Tyvis seems to get ‘it.’” I asked Bill what ‘it’ was to him. He made a few great points in answering, speaking to hard work and giving back, but one specific point seemed to fit the Tyvis I know perfectly.

“Looks to represent the university on and off the field in a manner that all of us will be proud of, and as a two-time alumnus from The Ohio State University, I really appreciate that!”

I asked Bill about the Plain Dealer article he had shown to Dylan, and what about it would cause him to take it to his son.

“When I read the Plain Dealer article, I was one alumnus that was so damn happy and so damn proud to have (Tyvis) be a part of the Buckeye Nation! I couldn’t help but think of Woody’s quote, ‘You win with people.’ Tyvis is exactly who that quote personifies.”

If you read Tyvis’ weekly blog posts at the end of 2011, Bill’s statement becomes very difficult to argue. He was honest and forthcoming. Energetic – yet humble. He was always thankful, and respectful, of the fans that would choose to read his work. It started to become less and less surprising and more and more just who he was. The fans grew to love Powell and what he stood for, but so did Dylan Armstrong.

“The thing that I read that made me such a fan of Tyvis was how determined he was to reach his goal and his work ethic towards his goal of playing college football,” Dylan said. “He went to an extra work out every morning. I really looked up to that. He was and still is a role model to me and I try to mirror the determination and dedication he has.”

Well, Dylan, I’m really not sure you could find a better role model as far as personalities go.

Tyvis pitched in with a couple of questions of his own for Dylan, asking how determined he was to being the best athlete he could be, as well as what he felt he could do to make his own teammates better – reminding him of the motto, “each one, teach one.”

“I’ll follow my coaches’ instructions to get better. I work out on my own to get better and I gave up pop while I’m training. I just need to work on my determination with my diet. I need to find/create an eating plan that I will follow.”

There were a few times in reading Tyvis’ blog posts from last year that were a little surprising as he talked about coming into Columbus and immediately being a leader with his new Ohio State teammates, specifically in the weight room. Which leads us to Dylan’s second answer.

“One thing I can do to make the team better is always give 100% whether it’s on scout team or on the varsity line. I can also push my teammates on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom to be the best that they can be.”

Dylan is just a freshman. Sound familiar?

Listen, I’m admittedly a little bias when it comes to Tyvis Powell after getting to talk with him quite a bit over the last nine or so months, but the facts of who he is simply cannot be denied. There’s a reason he’s succeeding on the off the field, at times against the odds. There’s a reason he’s become a fan favorite in just a few short months in Columbus. There’s also a reason why Coach Coombs may be tougher on Tyvis than anyone else in the defensive backfield – and why Tyvis still responds to that in a positive, productive manner.

It’s all he knows. It’s who he is.

Bill Armstrong had one final thought for me before the conversation came to a close, saying, “Tyvis’ brother told us that Tyvis talking to Dylan was just as neat for him as it was for Dylan.”

I have no doubt. He’s just a kid who apparently decided at an early age that no matter where he goes, how he gets there, or what happens between Point A and Point B he’s going to pay it forward. So he does.

He studies off the field and chooses to grind before, during and after his time spent on it. He pays it forward when the opportunity presents itself, interacts with the fans he’s chosen to play for and simply laughs in the face of the BS life aims his way. He’s just a freshman with plenty of dues left to pay, and Woody would have made sure he knew that, but he would have loved Tyvis Powell.

 

11 comments
Bill
Bill

Great article Grant! I am so happy I pointed the article out to Dylan back in October as he has found a great one to look up to in Tyvis. Your article brought a big smile to his face and he was quite happy with this part, "Dylan is just a freshman. Sound familiar?". Shortly after eading this he had me taking him to the club for workout #2 for the day. Yes, it does sound familiar!

Grant Edgell
Grant Edgell

Thanks, Bill. I appreciate the assistance from you and Dylan. I'm really not sure he could have picked a better athlete to mold his focus after. Dylan gives us one more young person to keep our eye on over the next 3+ years. We're definitely rooting for him.

Grant Edgell
Grant Edgell

Thanks guys and gals. It never feels like work writing about Tyvis.

Angie
Angie

Great article Grant! At this point, the only people learning how great this kid is, are people who have not been online the last year. Your article is just a small glimpse of the joy he has brought and will bring to Buckeye nation. I know he will be a leader on this team the entire time. He already has shown his love for The Ohio State and proved he is in it for all the right reasons. His Mother did a fine job raising him! I wish him the very best in life and look forward to cheering him on when he is on that field. I can not wait until his jersey goes on sale! Thank you for taking time to write about such an amazing student, athlete, and leader rolled in to one! OH-IO Go Bucks!

Holy Buckeye
Holy Buckeye

This kid is awesome, has great spirit, his demeanor at a young age is unusual. Most parents can only hope their kids are that mature at 18. His vision to complete his goals are what, most parents wish their kids would have. Through those 140 words, I can somewhat get a feeling that his life hasnt been all roses and that he's over come alot to get where he is today under those circumstances. But the kid never looks down and has the belief the sky's the limit. I have been reading his blog posts since 2011 and I am for one,,, one of his fans. The guy is a true Buckeye, with heart, mind and soul. The guy truely gets "it"!!! And yes Woody Hayes would be proud!!! For anyone who hasnt read his blog post, you're missing out!

Susan
Susan

Touché, Grant...again. It's always tough for me (for more reasons than 1) seeing Buckeye Nation reach out to recruits and trying to convince them why they should want to play in S&G. If only we could have a roster full of Tyvis Powells. There is no denying his love for The Ohio State University. He IS, always has been and always will be, a Buckeye. It's obvious. Tyvis is THAT kid that all of Buckeye Nation is rooting for. We can expect great things out of him... So, let's sit back and enjoy the ride.

Grant Edgell
Grant Edgell

Thank you, Susan. I knew you of all people would like this one.

Eric
Eric

Grant, As always, another great article. Tyvis seems to be the epitome of what all fans want in their Buckeyes. Here's to hoping this kid's on-field skill will impress those who don't yet know how impressive his off-field skill already is.

Grant Edgell
Grant Edgell

He's a unique kid, that's for sure. Very easy to like. The cool thing is that Buckeye Nation has caught on to that early and gets to watch him grow over the next few years.

James
James

I am a huge Buckeye fan, watch every game. I have never purchased a jersey but I'm going to buy a Tyvis Powell jersey ! It's refreshing to see a kid with such a great attitude, thank you Tyvis and GO BUCKS ! Grant, thank you for this article, well done sir ! Tyvis is going to be a fan favorite regardless of what he does on the field.

Grant Edgell
Grant Edgell

Thank you, James. He's pretty damn easy to write about.

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  1. [...] Woody would have loved Tyvis Powell, Ohio State freshman cornerback Tyvis Powell pays it forward off the field, connecting with Mentor (OH) High School freshman OL Dylan Armstrong. [...]

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