By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
John Powell joked he’d elicit the help of divine intervention for Ole Miss in future games with Tennessee.
“I’ll be praying real hard,” he laughed.
The former Obion County Central standout lineman and more recently a Jackson area representative of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization will have a front-row seat for all future Mississippi football games, having been hired as the Rebels’ team chaplain.
Powell will officially begin his duties in Oxford Aug. 1.
The 35-year-old local native said he was asked to apply for the position and was among 14 candidates interviewed for the post.
Previous association with new Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze when Freeze was head coach at Lambuth University in Jackson in 2008-09 no doubt aided Powell, who served the Eagle program through FCA during that time.
Freeze — who made the ultimate call on Powell’s hiring — was named the Rebels’ new head coach in December of last year after leading Arkansas State to a 10-win season and the Sun Belt Conference championship in his only season in charge of the Red Wolves.
The new Ole Miss football boss likely is best-known for being depicted in the book and motion picture “The Blind Side” about one of his former players at Briarcrest Christian, current Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher.
A recent graduate of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary (Va.), Powell said he had desired a position as a team chaplain or to pastor a church.
In his new duties, Powell will conduct team chapels and bible studies for players, and also be in charge of scripture studies for Freeze and the remainder of the Ole Miss coaching staff.
“Coaches have so much influence on players’ lives. Through my work with the coaches, I hope to influence the influences,” Powell told The Messenger.
His wife, Holly, will conduct similar bible study program with the Rebel coach’s spouses.
Powell is admittedly excited about his new position and believes his work can have long-lasting impact on the entire program.
“My intention and charge is to work with young men and coaches on a daily basis, to encourage and teach them to become better people, better husbands, better fathers though Christ, and to walk in his footsteps and live a positive lifestyle,” Powell said.
“I want to create the right perspective to play the game at a high level. You don’t have to use profanity.”
Following his prep days and after graduating OCCHS in 1995, Powell played four years at Lambuth.
Through FCA, Powell serviced a handful of high schools in the Jackson area, including the Madison County schools, Humboldt, Chester County, South Gibson and Hardin County.
He also served in a leadership role in FCA at the collegiate level with West Tennessee schools Union, Jackson State, UT Martin and Bethel University.
He had been with FCA since August 2001.
The Powell family also includes three children, Joanna (7), Ezra (5) and Jugham (3).
John is the son of Ron and Debra Powell and Beverly Buromisa.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 7.25.12