He spent more than half of his young life chasing a dream that seemed inconceivable at times.
As a stand-out cornerback at Bedford (OH) High School, Tyvis Powell had visions of himself in Scarlet and Gray. At times it seemed like nothing more than a ‘hope,’ but it was always a goal. As he plugged away as a senior – focusing as much on academics as he did sport – offers started rolling in wishing he would become a part of this program or that.
Youngstown State, Toledo, Western Michigan, Ohio, Akron, Buffalo and Ball State. All fine schools – none the school of choice. Syracuse, West Virginia, Minnesota and Cincinnati. Mark Dantonio and the Spartans of Michigan State University. Now we’re getting somewhere.
“No thank you.”
You see, when you grow up in Ohio idolizing Buckeye cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and then hone your own skills at the position – enough to be recruited by a number of Division-1 schools – playing for The Ohio State University becomes your only mission.
“I almost started crying y'all when I seen this in my locker...”
That was the direct quote from Tyvis, over the airwaves of the ever-popular Instagram, this past Saturday morning as he arrived at his locker at Ohio Stadium ahead of that afternoon’s Spring Game. Attached to the message was the photo you see to the right.
Early Saturday afternoon when I arrived at the Horseshoe, my first visit in more than six years (living nearly 3,000 miles from the Olentangy sucks), my eyes immediately attached to head coach Urban Meyer as he stalked the field with intensity and purpose during pregame warm-ups. I wanted to confirm for myself that he was indeed our new head coach. Once I finally got my mind completely wrapped around it, I didn’t go hunting for Braxton in the mess of Buckeyes running around. Miller, Ryan Shazier and John Simon would have to wait. I went looking for #23.
I wanted to see the kid I got to know so well after working with him on a weekly basis for three months here at BHC to close out 2011. I wanted to see exactly where all the heart and passion was coming from that we all read about within his twelve weeks of Tyvis’ Corner blog posts. It didn’t take long to find him – at 6’4” he stood a half a helmet taller than his defensive back counterparts during their position drills. His mention of "Mount Tyvis" from one of our conversations back in October immediately came to mind. Whichever of his Bearcat teammates coined that one wasn't lying.
As the game got rolling it was apparent Tyvis was going to get plenty of work on the Gray side of the ball. From our perspective, he didn’t disappoint. I fully expected a nervous freshman running around like a chicken with his head cut off – and instead watched him get a pass break-up, one solo tackle from the cornerback position, and make an interception on a Braxton Miller pass intended for Michael Thomas that was ultimately negated by penalty back at the line of scrimmage (one which Tyvis screamed ‘fraud’ on after the game, of course). All in all my friends, family and I were thrilled with what we got to watch. The word ‘Proud’ comes to mind.
I had a chance to catch up with Tyvis through some e-mails on Sunday afternoon to get his thoughts on his first Spring Game experience and, in true Tyvis fashion, he refused to talk about anything until he could get a ‘Thank You’ out there to Buckeye Nation. You think our support goes unnoticed to these guys?:
“First off, I would like to thank all 81,112 Buckeye fans for supporting us at the game. My experience in the 'Shoe on Saturday was PHENOMENAL!!”
What I really wanted to know was how he felt entering the game after a decade of hard work and hope - and just 14 spring practices under his belt as a true freshman:
“I've waited 10 years for that moment, and it was even better than I thought it was going to be. I wasn't really nervous about it. I was more anxious to get out there and play in front of all the people who believe that I'm good enough to be here. I hope I made them proud.”
And if you’re not yet aware, Tyvis has gained quite the following on Twitter (@TP23_) and speaks with fans on a daily basis. You don’t normally see that out of most athletes on social media sites, with a handful of exceptions, but he seems to enjoy the interaction and conversation. Of course he wasn’t going to let that escape his mind just because he finally got to lace them up in the ‘Shoe:
“My main intention was to put on a show for Buckeye Nation, like I promised. I hope I succeeded.”
“I swear Buckeye Nation is full of the best fans in the nation. Nobody can even compare. Even though we lost and we had to walk back (to the WHAC) I still had a BLAST! I can't wait to play in the 'Shoe again.”
So what’s next?
“That experience just makes me want to work harder. Nothing is more important to me than giving the fans a show.”
We’re all watching from afar, but he’s right in the mix on a daily basis. We find ourselves wondering what to expect this year, but I think he’s already done wondering:
“GET YA POPCORN READY & FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS, Buckeye Nation, because I have a feeling that this is going to be a GREAT season for the Scarlet and Gray.”
Of course when push comes to shove, he’s no less a fan of THE Ohio State University than we are. The last words I got from him?
Tyvis, from those of us here at BHC, and those within Buckeye Nation who have followed your story from the start, we're proud of you, your first performance and all that you've continued to stand for. Mission Accomplished, man. It was obviously very cool for us to finally see you in Scarlet and Gray, and we may have been just as excited for it as you were! We wish you nothing but the best. Go Bucks.