Livingstone Football: Only a freshman, Powell already setting records
By Laurie Willis
SALISBURY – Livingstone freshman sensation Drew Powell has broken six records during his first year on the Blue Bears football squad.
He has completed more passes than any other quarterback in a single season, attempted more passes in a single game and completed more passes in a single game than any other player under center.
He has also passed for more than 300 yards in a single game, completed more than 20 passes in a single game and passed for at least four touchdowns in a single game, records that had stood for nine and 10 years, respectively.
And as if that isn’t enough, Powell is only 323 yards away from breaking the single season passing record, which has stood for nearly half a century at Livingstone College and was established by Alfred Tyler in 1966. Tyler’s No. 17 jersey was retired at Livingstone long before Powell – who won’t turn 18 until December – was even born.
Livingstone fans are hoping Powell will eclipse Tyler’s record on Saturday when the Blue Bears take the gridiron against the Golden Bulls of Johnson C. Smith University at 1 p.m. on Smith’s campus in Charlotte.
“Drew has had a fantastic season and has helped lead us to two victories,” said Livingstone College Head Football Coach Elvin James. “He has broken several records and is knocking on the door on several more. The best thing about Drew’s performance is he has done it all with humility. I’ve never once heard him brag about his statistics or talk about me, me, me. Drew is all about his team, and I couldn’t ask for more in a rookie quarterback.”
Livingstone Athletic Director Andre Springs said Powell, who stands 6 feet 2 inches and weighs 235 pounds, is the kind of student-athlete the college strives to recruit.
“Drew will take us to the next level,” Springs said. “And we’re hoping that next level begins on Saturday when we beat arch-rival Johnson C. Smith University in the Commemorative Classic.”
Livingstone College and Johnson C. Smith (then named Biddle Memorial Institute) played in the first black college football game on Dec. 27, 1892. The game was played in the snow on Livingstone’s front lawn, and Smith emerged with a 5-0 victory in the defensive battle.
“The significance of our game against JCSU cannot be underscored enough because black college football originated with us and them,” Springs said. “That in and of itself is remarkable. But on a personal level, Smith has had the trophy awarded at the end of the Blue Bears-Golden Bulls game for the past three years, and it’s time we change that and bring it back home where it belongs.”
The fact that two North Carolina HBCUs, located less than 45 minutes apart, participated in the first-ever black college football game isn’t a well-known fact. But Springs and others hope to change that.
In fact, calling the contest between the two schools The Commemorative Classic was the brainchild of Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr.
“History started here,” Jenkins said. “And I’m proud to be part of that. It’s important for our students, as well as people throughout North Carolina and the country, to understand where black college football began. I hope people in Salisbury, Charlotte and the surrounding communities will join us on Saturday as we put another historic game between Livingstone and Johnson C. Smith in the record books.”