YOU DON'T FIND too many NCAA Division I football players majoring in classics. But then Will Powers was never the easiest guy to categorize.
Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh looks at the classics major and sees a classic athlete.
"We want to get as much speed and athleticism on the field as we can," Harbaugh said before fall practice began. "That means we have to find a spot for Will Powers."
Powers has moved from linebacker to tight end and back to linebacker this season for Stanford.
"Will is one of the better size-speed guys we have," Harbaugh said. "I've always known with his attitude, his mental toughness and his smarts that getting him on the field was critical for our team. That's why we moved him to tight end. He was working into the lineup there, getting reps, and then when Fred Campbell hurt his neck, Will went back to middle linebacker. I've always known Will is an outstanding football player, that he just needs to be out there playing."
Powers was on the field at the end of Stanford's 21-20 upset win Saturday over Arizona. He made a big contribution with a fumble recovery that ended Arizona's last chance at a comeback.
"I was in the spot I was supposed to be and I fell on it," Powers said. "I didn't even think it was real because the whole crowd was so quiet. And then I realized, 'Wait a minute, I'm on the road. Being quiet's a great thing.' I was just incredibly happy to contribute to that win."
"He really played well this last game," Harbaugh said. "His tempo and timing in our blitz game and on his run fits were really good."
After not being on Stanford's two-deep depth chart at any position but long snapper earlier in the season, Powers isnow listed as a co-first team middle linebacker along with Nick Macaluso.
Does Powers like playing offense or defense better? "Wherever I'm needed," Powers said. "I want this team to be successful. For that to be a reality we all have to buy in."
The former Serra High standout is starting to find himself, both on the field and in the classroom, where he recently declared a classics major.
"I've never been happier with my academic situation," Powers said.
But a middle linebacker majoring in classics?
"The faculty is just inspiring," Powers said. "You can tell they take a lot of pride in their work. While you've been away they've been preparing the whole time for the next class session, so you kind of feel guilty if you're not prepared. It's been a pleasure going to class."
Powers has taken special pleasure in a course taught by professor Patrick Hunt.
"He's a cool guy and one of the forefront people on Hannibal, not Hannibal Lecter, but the Hannibal who crossed the Alps with elephants," Powers said. "He's one of many professors in the classics department who have been supportive of me, not only academically, but athletically as well."
Powers hasn't taken courses in Greek or Latin yet.
"My concentration is ancient history," he said. "While it doesn't require you to know Greek or Latin, you tend to pick it up."
Knowledge of the ancient Greeks and Romans wouldn't appear to be the most practical course of study.
"That's the question that always comes up," Powers said. "But you can write about it, teach it, do research. Also law school tends to like classics majors. It's a major I love that I won't regret having. It's never been a burden."
And Powers does have practical goals. All his hopes aren't centered around becoming a pro football player. Or a classical scholar.
"Stanford doesn't offer it as a major, but ultimately I'd like to do something in business," Powers said. "Venture capitalism, private equity, something like that."