TAMPA – Derrick Powell Jr. has been perfecting his technique as a cornerback since the age of 5 starting in flag football.
Fast forward 11 years and the Cambridge Christian junior is still doing big things on the gridiron. He has 60 tackles, 12 interceptions and four total touchdowns (three interception returns, one receiving) over the past two seasons.
Powell, a 5’10”, 165-pounder has added 15 lbs. of muscle this off-season. Last year, he led the Lancers in interceptions (7) on the way to a perfect 9-0 regular season prior to a 12-1 overall finish before losing to University Christian in the Class 2A state title game.
He called the state-run a great experience. Powell is aiming to get back and he knows one way to avoid distractions this season.
“They way we’ll get back is by not being cocky and working hard,” Powell told Prep Sports Scouting. “We can’t have that mindset that we are going to sweep everyone and make it back to states.”
Cambridge Christian has talented pieces who play on both sides of the ball in running back/defensive back Andrew Cunningham, offensive tackle/defensive end Richard Gouraige, quarterback Jaylin Jackson, running back/defensive back Aaron Pierre, wide receiver Caleb Young and wide receiver/cornerback J’Kobi Reddick. Throw quarterback/wide receiver Daryl Mercer Jr. into the mix as well.
“Just because we have a lot of weapons, I feel like we can score at anytime on offense and defense,” he said. “I don’t really have to worry about putting the ball in my hand and all that. People don’t know that. They think we just have Andrew [Cunningham] and Richard [Gouraige].”
There was no bigger moment than Powell’s interception in the 36-32 region final win over St. Pete Admiral Farragut. He helped Cambridge erase a 14-point deficit in the second half with an 18-yard interception return touchdown. The Lancers gave up a score moments later, but Cunningham stamped the win with a 53-yard scamper to help them advance.
“Matt Landers had two catches on me,” Powell reminisced. “I was just being patient and I saw Austyn Causey roll out and knew that he was going to throw it. I just made the play.”
The most significant matchup in Powell’s mind this season comes in Week 7 on his 17th birthday, Oct. 14. Cambridge will square off with North Florida Christian, a team that lost 38-30 to reigning champion University Christian in the region final. In comparison, the Lancers lost 61-16 to University Christian in the title game.
Cambridge is run by one of the brightest offensive minds in Hillsborough County, eighth-year head coach Bob Dare. Over the last two seasons, Dare has helped the Lancers post a 20-3 record.
“I think he’s [Dare] a good coach,” Powell said. “He knows a lot about football and he’s got a lot of experience. With his offense, he knows a lot of different things. He can come up with a new play that fast during the game.”
Beyond Powell’s duties as a shutdown cornerback, he’ll be playing outside wide receiver rotating in and out with Reddick.
He’s a dual-sport athlete in basketball as he plays shooting guard for the Lancers. Powell has played basketball since at age 7 and calls his family die-hard basketball fans.
In terms of his biggest strength as a football player, he says that is his technique. He’s aiming to continue to get bigger and stronger.
Powell has yet to receive his first offer, but he has drawn interest from Florida, Tennessee and Virginia.
He says Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey and his former AAU basketball coach, SEBA’s Rick Thorpe his biggest role models.
“If it wasn’t for him [Thorpe] I wouldn’t be at Cambridge, Powell said. “He teaches us more than just sports, life lessons. He’s a good man.”
Powell is hoping to get a chance to play Division-I football. He says if the NFL doesn’t work out, he wants to get his degree in either communications or sports medicine and use that to his advantage.
Powell plays with quiet confidence and that shows on the field. He’s an imperative part of this talented Cambridge Christian group.
The offers haven’t come yet, but Derrick Powell has so much time to prove his worth to college coaches and scouts. He will land offers in due time as long as he continues to let his play do the talking. Powell is a true shutdown cornerback.
Favorite players to watch – Jaguars DB Jalen Ramsey, Buccaneers QB Jamies Winston, Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu and Florida State DB Derwin James
Playlist before games – Drake and Kodak Black
Favorite movies – Friday, Home Alone and Grown Ups
Favorite TV shows – The original Scooby Doo, Spongebob Squarepants, Prison Break
Fun fact about you that no one knows – “I’m a sneakerhead. I have 22 total pairs including all types of Jordan’s. My favorite part are my red Air Jordan 12’s.”
Nickname(s) from teammates or friends – “D-Dub”, “9”
Game film: Powell’s Hudl tape
In case you missed it:
1-on-1 with Cambridge Christian WR/S Caleb Young
1-on-1 with Cambridge Christian RB Andrew Cunningham
1-on-1 with Cambridge Christian ATH Aaron Pierre
1-on-1 with Cambridge Christian QB Jaylin Jackson
1-on-1 with Cambridge Christian ATH J’Kobi Reddick
Photo credit: Jack Wood
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.