As the saying goes, Jerrell Powe is getting the last laugh.
A full decade after the NCAA ruled him academically ineligible for the 2008 football season, the former Rebels defensive lineman is set to graduate from Ole Miss.
And by the looks of this graduation announcement that he tweeted on Monday afternoon, he had a chip on his shoulder during the entire pursuit of his degree:
.@NCAA – Take a break keeping young men from getting a college education & celebrate w me on Sat as I walk the stage to receive my #OleMiss diploma. 3PM@ Manning Center #finsup #landshark #forTony pic.twitter.com/cT8MiGqxcE
— Jerrell Powe (@jpowe57) May 7, 2018
Powe’s road to Ole Miss and the NCAA’s case against him is chronicled in this ESPN report by Joe Schad from August of 2007.
“Powe, who has learning disabilities, has been working toward eligibility for two years,” Schad wrote. “He signed with the Rebels in 2005, but the NCAA ruled he did not have the required core courses. He signed again in 2006 after attending a prep school and taking correspondence courses, but the NCAA questioned whether he had received too much help while he attempted to qualify. Powe’s lawyer, Don Jackson, has argued that teachers never offered more help than is required by federal law and the NCAA is violating the Americans With Disabilities Act.”
After a six-year NFL career with three teams, Powe re-enrolled in classes in Oxford and has finished his general studies degree, spending this school year completing his final 21 required course hours.
“I’m ecstatic,” Powe told Ben Garrett of 247Sports.com in April. “Every day I wake up, it’s crazy, ‘cause this is really about to happen. I’m really about to graduate. There were a lot of people who said I wouldn’t or I couldn’t. I’m just excited to be able to get it done and be able to move on to the next chapter in my life and find out what it is I want to do for the next 15 or 20 years of my life…I’ll be the first one to graduate college in my family. Especially with all the hoops I had to jump through, it means a lot. It means a lot to me, it means a lot to my mom and my family and it means a lot to me for my child that I can be able to instill education in him and to be able to put football second and also be able to show him that I was able to get a degree as well.”
Powe did eventually get to play for Ole Miss. He finished his Rebels career with 69 total tackles, 24 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks, according to stats on the team site. “He missed only one game in his three seasons, starting 22 of 25 games over his final two years. As a senior in 2010, Powe was one of five players to start all 12 games, amassing 27 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He was named a team captain.”
For a former player who has countless football achievements, he said those don’t even begin to compare with his college degree that will become official in Oxford on May 12.
“The mission’s complete.” he said. “It definitely beats out all the accolades I ever received, all the trophies, being ranked No. 1 in the country out of high school, all the prestigious awards I won playing football. It beats all of those. It’ll be front and center on the mantle. All that other (stuff) can sit on the floor…A dream come true.”