Nov. 3, 2003
By Jamail Buchanan, Stanford Media Relations Student Assistant
Pure explosiveness characterizes the play of Stanford Cardinal wide receiver and punt returner Luke Powell. Over the course of his career at on The Farm, Powell has etched his name in the Stanford history books as one of its' top receivers of all time.
The senior is the only Stanford player to have three touchdowns of 75 yards or more. In addition, he has averaged 18.8 yards per reception, third best in school history, and was a First Team All-America in 2001. He became Stanford's first First-Team All-America kick returner in school history. Luke finished the season ranked second in the NCAA and first in the Pac-10 in punt returns with a 16.0 average (19 returns, 304 yards) that ranked as the third best single season in school history. Powell is unique in the sense that he is only 5 foot 8, 175 pounds. He is quick, a smart player with savvy, and very dangerous in the eyes of any defense in the nation.
Luke has already established himself as one of the most dangerous players in college football. He has the ability to make a big play anytime he touches the ball. In his career, Powell has caught 83 passes for 1,560 yards and 11 touchdowns and his 18.8 yards per reception average is the fourth best all-time on The Farm. He is also one of the school's all-time best punt returners. He has recorded 47 punt returns for 533 yards and one touchdown. He is sixth in the Cardinal record book in punt return yards and punt return average.
Powell is off to a promising to start to the new season after a personally disappointing season for him last year. In 2002, Powell was hampered by an ankle injury throughout the entire season, and did not produce at his normal level of play. He was never able to play at 100 percent.
In the first game of this season, completely healthy, Powell caught 12 passes for 172 yards, both career highs, and scored two touchdowns against San Jose State. Powell hopes to keep up his high level of play. He feels like he has something to prove to himself.
"Last year was so frustrating, I can't describe it," Powell said. "My style of play is to use my quickness to get open, and I was a step slower. I couldn't do things that I have done before. Our offense wasn't very successful, and I kept thinking about all the passes I could have caught if I was healthy."
By far the Cardinal's big-play threat on offense, Powell feels like he once again has that extra step and believes good things will come of this year on offense.
He explains, "I am pretty confident that our offense will produce significantly more than last year. Last year, we were plagued by injuries, a new system, and the adjustments were tough. Now, we are healthy overall and everyone is comfortable with one another out there on the field. I think we are going to shock a lot of people."
Being one of the fastest offensive players nationally, Powell has the potential to land in the NFL after his senior year, but he maintains that his focus is strictly on Stanford football.
"Right now I am not trying to concern myself with that. I can't worry about that too much. I need to focus on winning some games here. Based on how our team performs the rest of the season will be a determining factor. If we play well, I have a shot."
Hailing from Smyrna, Tennessee, Powell was selected as a prep All-American by SuperPrep and PrepStar in high school. SuperPrep ranked him No. 8 on its list of the top "skill" athletes in the nation. Furthermore, he was a finalist for the Franklin D. Watkins Award as the top Afro-American student-athlete in the country coming out of high school.
Luke explains, "All I know is that this year feels completely different from last year, and I am positive the differences will be obvious. We are quicker and more agile, with a power running game. We are going to win a lot of games this year."