When Urban Meyer accepted the head coaching position at Ohio State in November 2011, the days of the Buckeyes relying on anything but blue-chip recruits were numbered. According to ESPN RecruitingNation, every incoming player in OSU's Class of 2014 was at least a three-star recruit. Same with the Class of 2013.
One would have to go back to 2012 to find the last two-star recruit to play for the Buckeyes under Meyer, and there is only one. In fact, he's the only two-star prospect on the entire roster, aside from a pair of long snappers.
He's Tyvis Powell, and he's more a part of the fabric of Ohio State football than Braxton Miller, Ezekiel Elliott or even Meyer himself. On a championship team full of five- and four-star players using Columbus as a pit stop to the NFL, Powell stands out.
Fans, of course, already know this. They know and love the running gag that he's actually the father to roommate and best bud Cardale Jones. They know him for his wisecracks on Twitter, like this one:
Told moms I'm the starting SS for the preseason #1 CFB team. No way I'm cutting the grass. U see who won that convo pic.twitter.com/ubvgxNyOwl
— Tyvis Powell (@1Tyvis) June 7, 2015
College football fans also know the fourth-year junior safety for his game-saving heroics. In 2013 against Michigan, he picked off Devin Gardner in the end zone to preserve a 42-41 against That Team Up North. Last year in the Sugar Bowl, his interception hammered the final nail in Alabama's coffin and sent the Buckeyes to the national title game.
(Even better than either of those picks was Powell's quote on why he thieved both game balls: "It's not stealing. I just inherited them. They were given to me.")
And even the most casual fans, the ones who tune in just for the championship game, saw Powell rack up nine tackles against Heisman Trophy-winner Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks. For that he was named the game's defensive MVP.
Fewer know his journey to get to that stage, though.
Powell was a Rust Belt darling, graduating from Bedford High School in Cleveland with a stack of MAC offers. Michigan State and Minnesota also offered but other schools like Wisconsin passed. Instead, he took a chance on a program sunk deep in the sludge of big-time NCAA scandal. Powell committed to the Buckeyes' the day after Jim Tressel resigned in disgrace. In the process, he became part of an almost-mythical group Cleveland.com called The Fickell Six, comprised of recruits who came on board when the program had an uncertain future under interim head coach Luke Fickell.
"He stayed with Ohio State through all the mess," Bedford High School football coach Sean Williams told Cleveland.com. "Like I said to Tyvis, when you graduate from Ohio State, your degree will not say Jim Tressel or Urban Meyer. It will say Ohio State University."
He also stuck through a humbling redshirt process that was tough on him.
"Coming out of high school, I was known as a top player," Powell told ESPN in 2013. "Then to get here, and you're not really doing anything to contribute to the team, it really broke my heart, honestly. Back in the day, I used to write these blogs for the fans and tell them how I wanted to work hard for them, and I kind of felt like I was letting the fans down. When they told me I was redshirting, at first I was depressed about it. Now when I look back on it, I don't think I was ready to play last year."
What Powell gave to the program was returned tenfold when the Buckeyes' hoisted the CFP trophy last January.
Last Saturday, as Indiana's slim chance to upset No. 1 Ohio State finally evaporated on a bad snap and a desperate throw, it was Powell and cornerback Eli Apple who averted what would have been an historic upset with a game-sealing play. He didn't keep this game ball -- he's got better ones in his collection -- but it wasn't a shocker he was in position to seal a victory.
It marked OSU's 25th Big Ten regular-season win in a row, and the team could break Oklahoma's record for most weeks ranked No. 1 (101) if they hold on for another seven days. But sights are set higher, as Powell made clear after his first start ever, a home win over Buffalo:
"I mean, I wouldn't say I'm satisfied," Powell said then. "I'm never satisfied."