Powell was a top-50 prospect nationally coming out of Greenville, North Carolina. He played in nine games as a reserve in 2016 (12 receptions, 87 yards, 7.3 average) and 14 games in 2017 (eight receptions, 57 yards, one touchdown, 7.1 average; three kick returns, 65 yards, 21.7 average). Powell redshirted his third year with the national-champion Tigers but played in four games (five receptions, 63 yards, 12.6 average; four kick returns, 117 yards, 29.3 average) as a backup while maintaining the year of eligibility. He was a larger part of Clemson's offense in 2019 (15 receptions, 122 yards, 8.1 average, two touchdowns). With Higgins off to the pros and Ross sidelined due to a spinal condition, Powell played well enough to earn third-team All-ACC honors (53 receptions, 882 yards, 16.6 average, seven touchdowns). He accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl.