Catching up with ... Ricky Powers

Editor's note: Catching Up With is a periodic series in which WolverineNation will interview past Michigan players about their playing days and what they're up to now. This installment features former running back Ricky Powers.

In his four-year career at Michigan, Ricky Powers amassed more than 2,500 yards on the ground for the Wolverines. However, his breakout season was his sophomore year in 1991, when he played alongside Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard. That season Powers ran for 1,200 yards and was named to the All-Big Ten team. He is listed in the Michigan record book's top 20 for both season and career rushing yards. He now lives in Akron, Ohio, and has coached varsity football there for the past five years.

Q: What have you been up to since you graduated from Michigan?
RP: A whole lot. My goal is that every kid I've got the privilege of coaching, I help them get their grades up, change their ways to good things, and help them get to college. That's what I've been up to the last few years.

Q: What did you do before that?
RP: I still was teaching here at Buchtel [High School], and actually I was the baseball coach; didn't do very well, but we had a lot of kids. Our kids in the community don't play a lot of baseball. We had a pretty good team. I think the kids learned a lot. I'm a very strict coach. I'm big on discipline, and our kids maintained about a 3.5 GPA, so I was really excited about that. Our football team during the state championship last year was about a 3.1 GPA. So that just tells you the mindset they were in.

Q: What did you study at Michigan?
RP: Kinesiology.

Q: So how did you get into teaching?
RP: I have no clue. After I played for Michigan, I played in the NFL for a bit -- started off with Detroit, the Browns for two years, made the move to Baltimore after that, still chasing the dream, went to the World League. From there, I had to realize that it was time to go find whatever I was going to do.

I didn't want to think. I wanted a job where I could punch a clock. I had a degree from the University of Michigan, and I was stocking shelves at Sam's Club because I didn't want to think. I was so disappointed in how things worked out, and so I was punishing myself. I did that for six months and then I started looking for another job.

I ended up working with sex offenders for five years, and that changed the way I thought about things and the way I approached life. It kind of woke me up a little bit, because all of it was learned behavior, and I thought, "I've been living in this secluded world, and real-life things are happening." It made me change my life and helped me realized I wanted to help kids. I ended up getting into the school system. I was subbing for a while, and then ended up getting a job with this program [at Buchtel] called Fusion.

Q: What's been your favorite thing about teaching?
RP: Actually seeing a kid change. We'll get them as they are, and as you start to talk to them and you start to work with them and build a relationship with them, you see the change in them, because they do have that change trait. No one is born bad. It's all learned behavior, and if we can get them to unlearn some of the things they've learned, we're doing our job. I think one of the biggest things is that I realized I can't save everybody, but I'll try.

Q: You graduated from Buchtel High School. What was it that made you want to return?
RP: I didn't. I had no intentions on ever returning. Life just came full circle. Akron is scary. It's one of those places where you grow up, go out, do all the things you want to do, then come back. It's the biggest fear for kids when they go out, I don't want them to come back until they're ready to make a change somewhere. I think the biggest thing, the reason why we get a chance to leave is to see how other things are, so we can come back and change our community. I hope that's what our kids learn from it all.

Q: What are your expectations for this season's Michigan football team?
RP: Our expectations are high. We want to win the Big Ten championship. We want to win the national championship. I want to see them ranked No. 1. All those good things. But my thing is, I just want to make sure people understand that I think Brady Hoke is the man for the job. I think they picked the right guy. Just give him time and be patient with him. He is doing the right thing. He is doing things "The Michigan Way." Bo would be proud that Brady Hoke is the coach at Michigan.

Chantel Jennings covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. She can be reached at jenningsespn@gmail.com.