Brock Bowers: The small thing about UGA which ultimately sealed his commitment
He liked the small-town feel. Was that really why a young man from California chose the Bulldogs?
That was exactly what Brock Bowers was looking for. That relatively simple reason was what allowed Georgia to be the choice for the nation’s No. 3 TE prospect for 2021 on the 247Sports Composite rankings.
It came down to Georgia and Washington. And maybe the last U.S. Census count.
“At both places like the people were great,” Bowers said. “I think just the main thing that made it different is just like Athens not being a big city like that. Just being able to enjoy myself outside of football, too. Just looking like a bigger picture. Just being able to get out of practice and just chill instead of having to battle a bunch of people in the city.”
Consider what could be found with a few Google clicks:
- Napa, California (his hometown): Estimated population of 79,000
- Athens, Ga.: Estimated population of 127,000
- Seattle, Washington: (Washington campus) Estimated population of 745,000
While covering the Bowers recruiting process, he always said that Athens reminded him of Napa. It wasn’t because both were charming quaint towns connected to nightlife or happy hours.
It makes sense on a whole new level now.
Both didn’t call for a rapid-transit system across the Metro area. Or have a Metro area. That had a lot to do with the similar vibes he felt in both communities.
It is a new one. We’ve now been chronicling the “Intel” on UGA recruiting in this space for five-plus years and never heard that as a major factor about why a young man chose Georgia.
It wasn’t the 93,000 best friends inside Sanford Stadium on a game day. Bowers has actually never been in Sanford for a game. Maybe it was that those 93,000 who weren’t around on the days that Georgia did not play football.
As it turns out, it was just Bowers being himself. When he committed to the Georgia coaches last Friday, there was no special day or reason behind it.
“There wasn’t really like anything like special going on or nothing,” he said. “I just felt ready to get everything over with.”
“I kinda like started to know the week before and I just slept on it for a couple of days,” he said. “Then Friday I talked to the coaches and everything there.”
They needed to put together the edit and the way he planned to release his decision. He was in no hurry and waited through the weekend. He finally let it out on Monday.
“Just to make it easier,” he said.
Brock Bowers: A little extra insight from his 7-on-7 coach
Check out this congratulatory tweet for Bowers on his commitment day. It came from the 7-on-7 group he’s grown up with over the last four-plus years.
— KT Prep (@KTPrepElite) August 10, 2020
Nathan Kenion has been the 7-on-7 coach for Bowers since he was in the eighth grade. Everybody has a story about an elite talent like Bowers. The ones he shared will show what the future Georgia playmaker is really all about.
“The first time I saw Brock he was in the eighth grade,” Kenion said. “We had a really good team that year and he came to one of our workouts. I remember watching him and watching him run around. He was probably 6-foot or 6-foot-1 or so. Real lanky kid. Pretty good frame already. But for his size and his age already he was really coordinated. I remember thinking in my head man this kid has a chance to be what he turned out to be. Which was a national top recruit.”
But then he really started to get to know him.
“What I then have been telling all these college coaches about him was that somebody was going to luck into having a throwback jewel,” Kenion said. “Brock is a quiet star. There’s a lot of loud stars out there but he is a quiet star. He doesn’t talk back. He listens. He applies. He learns very quickly. He doesn’t shy away from any opportunity to compete or get better.”
KTPrep was rated as one of the nation’s top 7-on-7 travel teams in 2019 by at least one entity. They finished No. 15 in the country.
Bowers had a lot to do with that. If KTPrep played six games in a tournament, he was likely to have at least 8-10 touchdown catches.
“I’ve worked with a lot of kids and kids of his caliber aren’t really built like that anymore,” Kenion said. “They are not built for the long haul of the grind of what it takes to really kind of separate themselves. I tell people all the time that Brock is going to be even more impressive in person day-to-day than even what people are aware of.”
Kenion describes Bowers as humble and accountable. If a ball is overthrown but he still finds a way to layout with his vast ability and gets a finger on it, he puts that’s on him. He will take the blame for it. Even on a bad ball. That doesn’t stop Bowers from apologizing to his coaches and teammates.
He wants to make every play. But he’s fundamentally wanting to please his coaches and teammates.
“He’s not a me-first type of kid and that’s why I suggest he’s a throwback,” Kenion said. “He has never once come back to the huddle and cussed out a quarterback or got mad for not getting the ball. He will just get in the huddle, listen to the play and grinds. When the ball comes his way, then he makes the play.”
That sounds exactly like a dude who would be quite cozy in a small town.
“I don’t like to talk a ton or anything,” Bowers said. “I just like to do what I do. Do whatever I am told I guess.”
The work ethic here jumped out to Kenion, too. He said if you gave the top 50 players in the nation a workout for the day on an Olympic lifting circuit, he’d bet on seeing Bowers among the last five left standing at the end.
Bowers feels like his recruiting journey is now over. If he takes any more visits, it will just be an official to UGA.
“I don’t really know if I want to complicate anything,” he said. “I don’t know. I just kind of feel done with it and everything. Like when I committed I really wanted it to be kind of final. Just have it over with. That’s why I was waiting.”
Beyond the stars: Another side of Brock Bowers
Bowers doesn’t know who his hunting buddies will be in Athens yet. But he is a hunter. There’s no high school football in California this fall. He hopes to play in the spring and he will not be an early enrollee at UGA.
The change of fall plans allowed him to go out recently on the day the fall deer season opened up in California.
“It was actually open season last weekend out here,” Bowers said. “It was the opening for deer. I just shot like a pretty small deer. It was nothing to like brag about or anything. It was like my first one in four years because I’ve had football. It was always hard to get out.”
He has maintained a 4.33 grade-point average in the classroom. It might be because his mother is a math teacher at Napa High School.
“I just kind of wanted to be like the best in the classroom and just do better than everyone else,” Brock Bowers said. “I kind of made myself compete there, too.”
His parents have instilled something there in the classroom. Or it might just be his natural mindset to excel in all things.
“I remember like I got my only ‘B’ in high school in my freshman English class,” Bowers said while laughing about that grade now. “I don’t even know what happened. I was like at 89 percent and she didn’t round it up. I was really mad.”
Napa just had a pass-fail last semester because of the online learning necessitated by the pandemic. He did say he’s had like a 4.3 GPA for the last 1-2 years. That will go nicely with the 4.5 laser time he recorded at an Opening regional prior to his junior year.
He ran that with just an offer from Nevada. Then he measured in with a 40-inch vertical leap. Then his whole recruiting outlook changed. College offers were no longer a problem. Finding the right small town was.
That unique athleticism allowed him to turn 14 of his 39 catches into touchdowns as a junior in 2019. Kenion will often say that Bowers reminds him of NFL Pro Bowler George Kittle.
“He’s fast, he’s big and strong,” Kenion said. “But when a lot of people see him they will go that dude is a tight end? I mean he has the size to be a tight end. Don’t get me wrong. But they see him running with 4.5 speed and breaking down and getting in and out of routes and they all say that dude can play receiver at the next level, too.”
He had a simple prediction for his future.
“As a tight end, he is going to be a complete mismatch nightmare for teams in the SEC,” Kenion said.
The funny story behind his commitment to UGA
What else led him to Georgia besides that small-town feel? Bowers said he spoke with his family about it, too.
“I remember the morning that day we just kind of like sat down and talked about it,” he said. “My parents and I made a plus-minus board and everything. We were just going through and I just kept thinking about it. Then I talked to them that night about it. I don’t know. I just felt like it was the right place for me and they felt the same way, too.”
“They really liked it.”
The self-guided visit he took to UGA in early July went very well. But he still needed to check out Washington.
“We went to a game up there [previously] and then we saw a spring practice but I never really saw the area around Washington,” he said. “Washington was always really intriguing to me. But it was just like seeing what was around the city and kind of comparing the two that’s where I felt like Georgia was right for me.”
There were other factors.
“All the people at Georgia and surrounding the program were great,” he said. “Obviously you are going to be winning there and playing in the SEC and everything. That plays a big factor, too. I don’t know. That is what I kind of grew up liking. Kinda. I just kind of just like it better than having to be around a ton of people in a big city like that.”
He did share his thoughts on the big news story of the week. The Big 10 and Pac-12 have halted their fall seasons. But the SEC is still planning its season. It is hard for that to not make an impact on a young player.
Even an elite TE in California.
“That was kind of another thing,” he said. “I saw the stuff that was happening in the Pac-12 with like the demands and everything was kind of like weird and then in the SEC football meant everything down there in the South. So that was cool.”
We’ll conclude with a funny story. Hartley went deep pulling in a unique hybrid talent for his tight end room. Bowers was his only choice for TE in the 2021 cycle. So he basically called his shot.
The Georgia graphics team commemorated the major commitment with a clever edit.
— Todd Hartley (@coach_thartley) August 10, 2020
“That was really funny to me,” Bowers said. “I was dying for that. That was great.”
Hartley nailed the Barry Bonds act. But then he tried to get a curveball past Kirby Smart.
“I think Hartley messed with him a little bit before,” Bowers said. “He was like ‘I thought you were calling to tell me that you were going to Washington’ when we spoke.”
Bowers was like: “Nah.”
Hartley had prefaced the call by dropping word that the Huskies were getting the nation’s No. 92 overall prospect for 2021.
“It was good, though,” Bowers said.
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