When Ike Powell puts on a Vanderbilt uniform for the first time during the 2014 Commodore football season he'll not only be fulfilling his ambition to play college football but also doing something that his grandfather, a 100 win major league baseball pitcher, wished he would have done.
When Ike Powell puts on a Vanderbilt uniform for the first time during the 2014 Commodore football season he'll not only be fulfilling his ambition to play college football but also doing something that his grandfather, a career 100 win major league baseball pitcher, wished he would have done.
Chuck Stobbs, the maternal grandfather of recent Vandy commit Ike Powell, starred as a quarterback in football and pitcher in baseball for Granby high school in Virginia during a time when money was a tight. In 1947 when a player was offered a $50,000 signing bonus, an enormous amount for the time, he took it. Stobbs, like many even today, couldn't pass up the money and signed with the Boston Red Sox. While Stobbs, one of the youngest players ever to pitch in the majors, went on to a successful MLB career he would always regret not playing college football.
"My biggest ambition was playing college football and going to the Rose Bowl," said Stobbs in later years to Matt Schudel of the Washington Post. "I regret sometimes even now not going to school and finding out if I could have played football."
Schudel of the Post wasn't the only person Stobbs shared this regret with. He also discussed this with his grandson, Ike, who was at the time an aspiring athlete in a similar manner as his grandfather.
Powell heard the exciting stories of his grandfather's professional baseball career that spanned until 1961 but also heard of his regrets about not accepting a football scholarship from schools like USC, Georgia and North Carolina. This gave Ike inspiration to accomplish what his grandfather missed out on.
"He didn't get a chance to do it so I wanted to do that," commented the young Powell.
Powell lost his beloved grandfather in 2008 to cancer but that didn't stop his drive to play college football. Powell, who decided he'd earn his way to college by being a specialist, began training with experts at long snapping camps in addition to his own high school team's normal workouts. As a freshman at Tifton high school Powell earned a spot on the varsity squad and the following season was in the starting lineup. By his junior season the hours of sweat and hard work began to pay off. Powell was ranked the No. 1 snapper by both ProKicker and Kohls, two of the top long snapper rating services.
Finally, about eight months ago, Vanderbilt assistant coach Ricky Rahne made contact with Powell through the player’s high school coach. Vandy was interested. Powell later visited for the Auburn game and fell in love with the school. Both Rahne and Commodore special team’s coordinator Charles Bankins stayed in regular contact with the coveted snapper but still hadn’t offered. Then one day in the spring Bankins showed up at a Tifton County's practice. Up to this point Powell had had several invitations from schools to walkon and one offer to greyshirt. He still had not received an offer to be part of the 2014 recruiting class. Would Vandy offer? Not quite yet, but Powell was invited to Vanderbilt's Junior Day in May and again liked what he saw but still there were no offers.
More recently, Powell was invited yet again to visit, this time to the Vandy Specialist Camp on June 13. After snapping in front of the coaches at the camp, Powell and his father went to eat dinner, still without an offer. Later that evening the Powells returned to campus and received some exciting news from the Vanderbilt coaches. Ike had an offer from Vanderbilt. It didn't take long for Powell decide. He committed on the spot and was going to Anchor Down at Vanderbilt.
"Everybody was so just excited there, just congratulations all around," said Powell. "They were all telling me how excited they were to have me in the family. They were really just treating me like I was part of the family now."
The Vandy coaches and Powell were not the only ones happy. Powell’s parents are also elated by his decision to attend Vandy.
"They feel like I made the absolute right choice," said Powell. "They love coach Franklin and the whole coaching staff and they love the education at Vanderbilt."
Despite earning a college football scholarship Powell knows his work is far from done. This summer he's practicing and lifting with his teammates every day along with continuing to hone his long snapping skills. In July Powell will return to Nashville for Vandy's offensive line camp. Then next August, after graduating from high school, he'll be off to college- the place where his grandfather would have been happy to see him and be himself.
On that day you can bet the spirit of Chuck Stobbs will be smiling along with the hard working Ike Powell.