One of the few conversations about the Colorado football program these days that doesn't quickly turn negative are those involving the potential of Christian Powell.
In a season that started with lamentable losses to Colorado State and Sacramento State, the debut of the 6-foot, 235-pound bruiser in the backfield is definitely a bright spot.
There were a dozen media members leaning forward in their seats earlier this week at the Colorado football press luncheon to hear what Powell had to say when it was his turn at the podium. He was there because he was the star of the game on the black and gold side last week carrying the ball 28 times for 147 yards and three touchdowns.
He plays with a roar, but Powell speaks softly.
"I always tell him to be humble, keep himself humble," said his mother, Tanya Powell. "Even when he was in high school and he played very well, I would stay in his ear, 'Keep yourself humble.'"
Christian Powell said this week has been a lot to manage, but he is doing his best. He's suddenly very popular on campus following his breakout performance at a position he wasn't recruited to play.
He played defense through much of high school and began to work hard at fullback in his senior year when his coach told him he wasn't likely to be highly recruited as a 6-foot defensive end. When he arrived at CU this summer and coaches began to see what he could do in practice, they knew they would be able to use him as a tailback if they needed to.
After CU rushed 29 times for 58 yards against CSU, they needed to.
He tripled that production against Sacramento State on one fewer carry. By midweek, he said his legs were still feeling sore, but he promised to be ready to do whatever coaches ask of him this week at Fresno State.
"It was a good experience, something new, but I had fun doing it," he said. "Everybody likes to get the ball so that was definitely a plus going back there and doing something new."
Coach Jon Embree says Powell will continue to get plenty of opportunities at tailback going forward because the offense needs a back that can earn yards after contact, break tackles and move the pile.
Powell developed a reputation for running with force before he ever arrived in Boulder. He began playing football in the ninth grade and was one of the bigger players on his team from the beginning. He was known as a hard hitter and when he shifted to offense, no one looked forward to tackling him.
CU freshman defensive back Marques Mosley played on the same high school team in Upland, Calif., as Powell and occasionally had to tackle his friend in practice or one-on-one drills.
"In high school, he was like, I think, 30 pounds heavier," Mosley said. "So it was like running into a train."
In fact, Powell has two nicknames from his high school days. His friends call him by his initials C.P., and at times they called him "Freight Train" in high school. They even played the sound of freight train horn sounding over the public address system in his high school stadium each time he scored a touchdown.
"Whenever he got a chance to hit somebody, he would take them out," Mosley said. "On offense, whenever he got the ball, he would make something happen."
Powell said during this week's press conference his favorite football player is former Tampa Bay fullback Mike Alstott because he likes the aggressive way Alstott played the game. It's how he tries to play.
"He was a straight out beast," Powell said. "He did it all. That's why I can consider him like a role model."
Tanya Powell said her youngest son was never one she had to tell to do his homework or take care of his responsibilities. He was always going out of his way to help her and other people.
"If you didn't do something, he would just do it himself," she said.
All indications are Powell is taking the same approach to learning the offensive playbook. He wants to be the best running back he can be.
"I'm trying to learn everything," Powell said. "Even when I had no idea I'd be playing (tailback) I still tried to learn the whole offense just cause that would make your job that much easier when you know everything that is going on."
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