All one has to do is listen to Army's offensive coordinator, Ian Shields to understand why Ryan Powis took over reigns at center, almost as soon as he stepped foot on the West Point campus last year as freshman. Ironically, his ascension is very similar to that of the person he hikes to the ball to, quarterback Trent Steelman, who is now entering his 4th year as the Black Knights' starting quarterback.
"Ryan is as good as it gets at center ... he's an excellent player," said Shields of Powis, who is the first to declare that from his frosh to sophomore year, there is a transformation taking place in his game.
"I feel a big difference and I'm much more comfortable in the position, I'm much more comfortable with everyone and it's not only me, but everyone is getting comfortable with each other, especially up front," says the 6-foot-1, 260 pound Powis, who believes that this year's offensive line, will be even more effective than the group last year, who help lead the nation in rushing with an impressive 4,158 yards (346.50 yds per game).
"We didn't lose much, especially at the guards and me (center) and also in the backfield, we did lose anyone to graduation, so everyone is working together," adds Powis.
So what is the biggest difference between last year and going into his sophomore? "Probably my understanding of the game and confidence," he declares. "Last year we played in some big time games and some big stages. At first it was a little bit overwhelming, but once you get use to playing, then each game your confidence kind of builds up."
As an offense, we were very productive and allows us to bring that into this season.
Yes, those rushing numbers have and will cause defensive coordinators pre-game nightmares, but make no mistake about it, the success of players like Raymond Maples, Larry Dixon, Jared Hassin, Malcolm Brown, Terrence Baggett and the others starts up front and Powis shares this group is both mentally and physically ready to pick up where they left off last season.
"We don't really talk about goals like how many yards or anything, but it really our attitude towards almost everything," he says. "We're not going to let anyone else walk in and own that front line. Of course we are smaller, but it doesn't matter because our attitude is to make up for it."
Powis indicated that he was determined to enter spring practice in better shape.
Transition from prep to West Point - Academically the prep school absolutely got me ready for West Point. It prepared me for waking up early, wearing the uniform everyday.
Going back home? I take thinks seriously and I see the bigger picture, but when it comes to my best friends, there is not a problem.
And it's that same attitude that flows through the entire team, where everyone in the program is believing that such a mindset will translate into wins.
"We are very optimistic," Powis says. "For example, if things aren't going well in the weight room or practice a coach or teammate will remind us that we aren't going to let this happen again and we just keep trying to push on harder. We know there are a lot of games we can win. There are some bigger name teams, but I know it's something we are looking forward to and we know it will be tough competition."
As for competition, Powis knows how important it is to start getting back on the winning track against academy rivals and one game in particular he has circled on his calendar and that is Air Force. "It was an emotional game for me last year, it was my first time playing another academy and I had a few bad plays," says the soon to be sophomore.
Powis was quick to attribute part of his lapse against Air Force to his inexperience, but as the seasoned unfolded, so did his maturation as a ball player. "In the beginning I felt a little awkward telling people who had been there for 2-3 years what to do," says the sophomore of Midlothian (Va.), when discussing his role in calling out the defense at the line of scrimmage or any other needed direction typically designated for the center. "But eventually as season went on I grew into my skin a little bit and everything started to come out naturally. This year I'm a returning, so I think it's (leadership) coming out even more naturally now."
Stay tuned for our one-on-one with fellow sophomore linebacker Geoffery Bacon, as well as our profile on Army's new fullback and special teams coach. All coming up on GoBlackKnights.com.
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