SI Vault
The Can't Miss Kid
Rick Reilly
September 23, 1996
That's the role Ron Powlus was supposed to play at Notre Dame. This is real life: Everyone misses sometimes
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
September 23, 1996

The Can't Miss Kid

That's the role Ron Powlus was supposed to play at Notre Dame. This is real life: Everyone misses sometimes

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

This is how many E-mail messages Powlus had one night in the 1994 season when he got home from a game: 600. Because they took up so much memory space, his computer was unable to open any of them.

This is what Powlus wrote about his first year in college football's only hyperbaric chamber:

Leave Home.
I can do anything.
Great start.
Pressure Building.
2 Heismans?
Expectations Unreal.
Broken collarbone.
...I'm human?
Regular person.... First time, ever.
I 'II show them.

This is what his dad said to him every day after school: "Make an A today?"

This is what the referee said to him in the fourth grade when he stepped up to the fourth-grade free throw line in the fourth-grade basketball league: "You've got to shoot from the regular free throw line. You're too good."

This is what he said to his clad that afternoon through his tears: "Why does everybody treat me different?"

This is when 12-year-old Ron Powlus finished delivering his newspapers, the ones that had to be there by 7 a.m.: 5:30 a.m.

This is what 14-year-old Ron Powlus would do for hours in his basement while the rest of his buddies were out playing: watch film of his footwork.

This was Powlus as a senior at Berwick High: star quarterback, honor-roll student, homecoming king, state player of the year, national player of the year, quarterback of the state champions, quarterback of the undefeated, top-ranked team in the nation, still in love with his seventh-grade girlfriend, the biggest celebrity in town, the biggest target in town, the kid who stayed home more Friday nights than anybody else.

This is why: One night, police busted up a huge teenage beer bash. Reporters from the local paper called 10 students, asking if Powlus was there. They all said he wasn't. No story ran.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9