With college football programs lining up for Detroit Cass Tech star defensive back Jaylen Kelly-Powell, there’s a main component he needs from his future school.
“One way I narrow my choices is academics,” he said. “Do you fit me academically? If you do, then we can talk.”
Kelly-Powell, who has received 43 scholarship offers, spoke to the Free Press during Thursday’s jersey ceremony at Cass Tech to honor his selection to the Under Armour All-America game, which is scheduled for Jan. 1 in Orlando.
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Along with his abilities on the football field, the senior remains committed to academics, too. He maintains a 3.9 grade-point average at Cass Tech and plans to graduate in December, making him eligible to enroll in college early.
“It’s hard now, but in the long run it will be worth it,” said Kelly-Powell, who aspires to be a doctor once his football career is finished.
Although he said there is no immediate timetable to choose a college, Kelly-Powell narrowed his finalists to Alabama, Duke, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA and Wisconsin.
Kelly-Powell, who recently made an official visit to Nebraska, will officially visit Oregon this weekend and then Alabama in October. He made unofficial visits to his other top schools, including Michigan and Michigan State.
“I don’t have any rankings right now,” Kelly-Powell said of his college decision. “Those schools all have my major and they’re all talking to me. It’s going to be hard.”
Michigan, which has returned to national prominence under head coach Jim Harbaugh, made a good impression on Kelly-Powell, who could play safety or cornerback in college.
“Harbaugh is really a great guy. Hilarious,” Kelly-Powell said. “He’s about football and academics. He wants you to be great. He wants you to grow up. That’s the most important thing, having his young men grow up.”
Wherever he chooses to play, Kelly-Powell should make a valuable contribution, both in the classroom and on the field.
“Jaylen does all the right things. He’s like a coach’s dream,” said Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher. “He is a role model because he’s always going to do the right thing. He’s always trying to make sure things are OK”
“He’s a real technical player, he approaches the game serious,” fellow Cass Tech star Donovan Peoples-Jones said of Kelly-Powell. “He makes me better every rep. He’s even better outside of football, in the classroom. His work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go.”
While his immediate goal is to help Cass Tech win its first state football title since 2012, Kelly-Powell said it was an honor to make the Under Armour All-America team. He was the only high school player from Michigan to make the roster.
“Our coaches put me through a lot of hard work to get better and better,” said Kelly-Powell, who has 12 tackles and five pass break-ups for Cass Tech this season.
The Technicians (2-0), who are No. 1 in Mick McCabe’s Super 10 rankings, host Detroit Pershing at 4 p.m. Friday.