By The Associated Press
OXFORD — Ole Miss’ Jerrell Powe hopes his perseverance leads to NFL success.
The 320-pounder’s college career started with a three-year NCAA eligibility saga and ended with two seasons of dominance in the Southeastern Conference.
Powe and 14 other former Ole Miss players went through the school’s pro day on Tuesday, working out for scouts from 24 NFL teams. Others who participated included quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, linebacker Jonathan Cornell and cornerback Jeremy McGee.
Powe appears to be the Rebels’ best pro prospect, but his advanced age — he turned 24 last week — could lower his value. Results from Tuesday’s workout were not released for any of the players who participated.
He initially signed a letter of intent with Ole Miss in 2005, but was held out of competition for three years during a contentious eligibility battle that included a lawsuit. In 2008, he was finally allowed on the field, but was out of shape and played sparingly.
He slimmed down from about 380 pounds to 325 by the 2009 season and the transformation on the field was dramatic. He was named to The Associated Press All-SEC second team in each of the past two seasons.
“We’re hearing second round, but we don’t go by that,” Powe said. “We just worry about who likes you. That’s the only thing. I’m just hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. We’re hearing early second, mid-second, have heard early third.”
Powe will almost certainly be drafted. But like it is for most players, the current NFL lockout remains a concern. Powe had one year of eligibility remaining, but decided to turn professional because of his age.
“I’m just praying things work out,” Powe said. “Just watching and hoping for the best. We’ve put a lot of work in and really want to play the game that we love. I’m just hoping they give us a chance to play.”
Masoli’s chances at playing in the NFL are less clear. He threw for 2,039 yards, 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his senior season, while also rushing for 544 yards and six touchdowns. He also had an exceptional career at Oregon — accounting for 5,277 yards of total offense and 51 touchdowns — over two seasons before transferring to Ole Miss after being dismissed from Oregon after two run-ins with police over a six-month span.
At just 5-foot-11, quarterback might not be his professional position. At pro day, he threw passes and also caught passes out of the backfield.
“Different teams have different answers,” Masoli said. “A couple of guys might use me in their scheme as a running back or a wildcat guy, or other guys are talking about QB only.”
He said his preference is to play quarterback.
“I’m a QB at heart, but I’m also a baller at heart,” Masoli said. “Any position, I’ll take it.”