Sonny Powell will have his phone on vibrate and stowed in his desk Friday when hes teaching seventh- and eighth-grade history at First Assembly Christian.
Powell, who is also the boys soccer coach and an assistant for the girls team at the private school in Concord, will find out Friday whether his improbable NFL dream lives another day.
Powell was among the participants at an NFL regional combine last weekend at the New York Jets practice facility in Florham Park, N.J. There were 37 kickers who paid the $275 registration fee for the chance to impress NFL scouts.
Only one drew national media attention Lauren Silberman, who became the first woman to try out for the NFL.
Powell was pulled into the sideshow surrounding Silberman, whose history-making day ended amid injury and questions about why she was allowed to compete without having played organized football.
Powell was quoted in an Associated Press story about Silberman after the two talked about their shared soccer background while waiting to kick. While Silbermans tryout which was preceded by appearances on television programs was criticized by many as a publicity stunt, Powell had no issues with her.
I wasnt there to impress the media, so it didnt bother me at all, Powell said. The coaches were still watching us. The scouts were still watching us. I understand why (reporters) went down to look at her. It was a milestone.
As for whether someone with no football experience should have been included in the tryout, Powell said, If you want to take it that way, technically Im not qualified, either.
Powell, 25, grew up playing soccer in Concord. First Assembly started its football program when Powell was a senior, but soccer players were not allowed to go out for the team due to concerns over scheduling conflicts.
Powell, a UNC-Charlotte graduate, always had a strong leg. At halftime of a First Assembly football game in the fall of 2004, Powell made a 50-yard field goal barefooted.
I just rolled the jeans up, had someone hold it and kicked it, he said. That was the first time I really thought, maybe I could do this.
Powell went to college and the years passed, but he didnt forget about his right foot. The father of one of Powells students, a motivational speaker, asked Powell if theres anything he would like to have done when hes 50.
Trying to kick field goals was one of them, Powell said.
Powell bought five balls and a tee at a sporting goods store and started kicking last November at a Harrisburg park that had field goal posts attached to soccer goals. He ordered an instructional video online from former Philadelphia and San Francisco kicker David Akers.
I didnt know anything about it, Powell said. When I went out there I had a hard time kicking a 20-yard field goal because I was so used to soccer.
But he kept at it, and found a registration for the NFLs regional combines, designed for players who werent invited to the main combine in Indianapolis. The only stipulations were that players meet the application deadline and are at least three years removed from high school, making them eligible for the draft.
I was nervous as all get-out because the application was two or three pages long and it was all about your football history, Powell said. I had to leave it blank.
But in the notes section, Powell wrote the following: God has given me the ability to kick a ball. I dont think He told me it has to be round.
Powells history students rallied behind him. A few asked him to autograph their tests in case he made the NFL, as St. Louis kicker Greg Zuerlein did last year.
His sister and a friend accompanied him to Manhattan, where they visited the 9/11 Memorial, Times Square and Central Park the day before the workout. Powell went to a playground near their hotel and practiced by trying to kick balls into a basketball goal.
At the Sunday tryout, Powell introduced himself to Silberman, who played club soccer at Wisconsin.
Everybody was curious to see what she would do. We didnt know anything about her as far as her ability, Powell said. All the other guys were kind of keeping an eye to see how she was doing.
They didnt get to see much.
Silberman hit two kickoffs that went 13 and 19 yards, then clutched her right quadriceps. She apparently aggravated an injury she sustained while training, and did not attempt another kick.
Powell made two of six field goal attempts, hitting from 50 and 55 yards but missing several from shorter distances. He pulled his first try from 35 yards wide left. It was much more nerve-wracking than I anticipated, he said. Youre the only one doing anything, so everyone in the facility is watching.
Powell returned to school Tuesday. Several of his students had read the wire story in which he was quoted, and told him he was famous.
By Friday, NFL officials are to call the participants who are invited to next months super regional combine in Dallas. Powell had not heard from the league as of Thursday.
But as he told his students, hes not giving up. I told them, Im not done with this, Powell said. You dont give up on your dream if you dont make it the first time.
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