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Spring Practice No. 7: News, Notes and Quotes


#Top15of15: No. 1 -- Fake Punt at Syracuse

Fake punt leads to game-winning field goal; bowl eligibility

As Pitt's special teams coordinator and running backs coach the past two seasons, Andre Powell's impact on the Panthers has been both immediate and impressive.

Under Powell's direction, Quadree Henderson last season led the country in kickoff return touchdowns (a school-record three) and combined kick return yards (1,166). Henderson was a Consensus All-American, becoming the first player in Pitt history to earn that stature as a return specialist.

As a team, the Panthers ranked fourth nationally in kickoff returns (26.59 avg.) and seventh in punt returns (14.88 avg.).

The kicking game was responsible for some of Pitt's biggest wins the past two years. Chris Blewitt, who concluded his career as Pitt's all-time kick scoring leader (363 points), had four game-winning field goals during the 2015-16 seasons. His biggest came at Clemson last year, a 48-yarder with six seconds left that lifted Pitt past the eventual national champion Tigers, 43-42.

In the offensive backfield, Powell has coached a 1,000-yard rusher in each of his two years at Pitt. In 2016, James Conner—who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers this spring—rumbled for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns in earning first team All-ACC. The season prior, Qadree Ollison was the ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year after rushing for 1,121 yards and 11 touchdowns. Ollison became just the fifth freshman in Pitt history to achieve a 1,000-yard rushing season.

Prior to Pitt, Powell spent four seasons at Maryland (2011-14), where he coached the running backs and, in his final three seasons, served as special teams coordinator. In ESPN's 2014 team efficiency rankings, the Terrapins' special teams were rated No. 11 in the country. Maryland's Brad Craddock was selected the 2014 winner of the prestigious Lou Groza Award, annually presented to college football's top placekicker, after converting 95% of his field goals (18 of 19 with a long of 57 yards). The Terps led the Big Ten and ranked sixth nationally with a 25.6-yard kick return average.

In 2012, Maryland boasted a dynamic return game that featured freshman Stefon Diggs, who totaled 1,896 all-purpose yards, the second-highest season total in school history. Diggs earned All-ACC as a specialist after finishing second in the league with a 28.5-yard kickoff return average.

Powell coached at Clemson from 2007-10, overseeing the running backs each of his four seasons and coordinating the special teams his last three. The Tigers went to a bowl game each year of his tenure, earning two Top 25 finishes. Powell mentored all-time Clemson great C.J. Spiller, a 2009 unanimous All-American and ACC Player of the Year. During his decorated campaign, Spiller became the first running back in ACC history to compile 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in the same season.

Spiller concluded his Clemson career with 7,588 all-purpose yards, the second most in FBS history. His seven kickoff return touchdowns set an NCAA record, while his eight total kick return TDs (including one punt) tied the national mark. Spiller was a first-round NFL Draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2010.

Powell also tutored All-ACC running back James Davis, the second all-time leading rusher in Clemson history with 3,881 yards.

Powell coached running backs at North Carolina from 2001-06. He was the Tar Heels' special teams coordinator his final three seasons in Chapel Hill. UNC ranked seventh nationally in kickoff returns in 2005 (24.93 avg.) and 29th in 2006 (22.12 avg.). The '06 Tar Heels also ranked 14th in kickoff return yardage defense (17.46 avg.).

At Virginia from 1996-2000, Powell coached the running backs (1996 and 2000) and receivers (1997-99). Among his pupils were future NFL players Tiki Barber, Germaine Crowell, Thomas Jones, Charles Kirby, Pat Washington and Terrence Wilkins.

Powell first worked with Pat Narduzzi on the football staff at Rhode Island during the 1993 and 1994 seasons. Powell's additional coaching stops include Indiana (1989), South Carolina (1990), Army (1991 and 1995) and Virginia Military Institute (1992).

Powell is a 1989 graduate of Indiana, where he lettered twice as a fullback and helped pave the way for 1,000-yard rusher Anthony Thompson. He played on a pair of bowl teams for the Hoosiers (1986 All-American Bowl and 1988 Peach Bowl). Powell and his wife, Joann, have two daughters, Alayna and Mikala, and a son, Andre II.

BORN September 29, 1966
HOMETOWN Lockhart, S.C.
ALMA MATER Indiana, 1989
FAMILY Powell and his wife Joann have two daughters, Alayna and Mikala, and a son, Andre II.

Indiana, 1988-89 1988, Student Assistant; 1989, Graduate Assistant
South Carolina, 1990 Graduate Assistant
Army, 1991 Inside Linebackers
VMI, 1992 Running Backs
Rhode Island, 1993-94 Running Backs
Army, 1995 Running Backs
Virginia, 1996-2000 1996, Running Backs; 1997-99, Wide Receivers; 2000, Running Backs
North Carolina, 2001-06 2001-06, Running Backs; 2004-06, Special Teams Coordinator
Clemson, 2007-10 Running Backs; 2008-10, Special Teams Coordinator
Maryland, 2011-14 2011-14, Running Backs; 2012-14 Special Teams Coordinator
Pitt, 2015-present Special Teams Coordinator and Running Backs

Andre Powell

Andre  Powell

Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator

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