Powe, Lewis to battle against familiar faces in Nashville

To hear Houston Texans defensive tackle Jerrell Powe tell it, the 2008 Ole Miss football team was pretty special.

"That team was real good," Powe said in a recent interview. "We had a host of talent that went on to play elsewhere. That speaks volumes about the type of team we had."

That Rebel team finished 9-4 on the year, ending the season with an impressive 47-34 win over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. Lead by head coach Houston Nutt, the 2008 Ole Miss squad improved tremendously from the previous year, where they went 3-9. "It was a lot of fun," Powe added. "We were coming off a 3-9 season and then we were able to turn it around in 2008."

Included in those nine wins was a historic 31-30 win on the road over Florida, who would go on to win the National Championship later that season. It was after that loss that then Gator quarterback Tim Tebow gave his famous 'speech', the words of which are now a monument at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (known as the Swamp) in Gainesville.

Powe put up solid numbers for that Rebel defense, collecting 1.5 sacks and an interception. The leading tackler on that Ole Miss squad?

Kendrick Lewis.

Lewis, who signed by the Texans this past offseason, tallied 85 tackles for the Rebels that year, while also snagging a team-high four interceptions. The combination of Powe and Lewis, which Texans fans are becoming familiar with, won't be the only Oxford connections at LP Field this Sunday.

Fellow Rebels Michael Oher and Dexter McCluster, now members of the Tennessee Titans, will be on the other sideline, giving Powe and Lewis a chance to compete against old friends. "It's going to be good to get a chance to talk a little trash against them and go up against them," Powe mentioned. "It will be fun."

Oher, whose life story was chronicled in the movie 'Blind Side', has been a starting lineman in the National Football League since being drafted 23rd overall by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 draft. The six-year veteran signed with the Titans this past offseason and has started every game for Tennessee. Oher was heart and soul of that Ole Miss squad, someone everyone looked up to. "Michael Oher was the vocal leader," Powe commented.

Oher will find himself in a familiar spot, blocking for running back Dexter McCluster. McCluster lead that Rebels squad in several offensive categories, including rushing yards and receptions. The dual-threat weapon has etched out a solid pro career, spending time with the Kansas City Chiefs before signing with the Titans this offseason.

In a strange twist of Rebel fate, Lewis, McCluster and Powe all played together in Kansas City during the 2011-13 seasons. 

Despite being on opposite sidelines this Sunday, Powe knows that group will always share the success they had in Oxford.

"Those guys had a lot of talent and we played with a lot of heart," Powe said.

But, the Texan defender has his priorities in order.

"It will be real fun trying to tackle Dexter," Powe laughed.

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