Then their paths diverged.
During the five years since, Oher — the subject of the popular film "The Blind Side" — graduated from college and vaulted to riches in the NFL, while Powe bounced among four schools and worked as a jailer to make ends meet.
Like a riddle wrapped up in an enigma, the same catalyst — credits from BYU Independent Study — proved to be Oher's big break and Powe's stumbling block.
In the spring of 2005, Oher and Powe were 18-year-old dancing bears: 300-pound behemoths blessed with freakish agility.
Both were big-time football recruits — Rivals.com ranked Oher and Powe 48th and 24th, respectively, on its list of the 100 best high school players in the country. The pair even signed to play for the same school, the University of Mississippi. But before they could suit up and play for the Rebels, Oher and Powe each faced an uphill battle to meet the NCAA's academic eligibility requirements for playing college football.