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Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19) during Georgia’s practice session in Athens, Ga., on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

Brock Bowers still separating himself for Georgia football: ‘He kind of flipped the switch’

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Brock Bowers still showing why he’s special for Georgia football

When you see Brock Bowers at practice, he doesn’t immediately stand out. That’s in part because of who else is in his position group. Darnell Washington is perhaps the biggest player on the team. Arik Gilbert isn’t much smaller and is a bit faster than the monument that is Washington.

Even freshman Oscar Delp has a size advantage over Bowers. The sophomore tight end from Napa, Calif., still has good size at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. It’s not until seeing Bowers fire off the ball that you begin to understand why he was able to do what he did last season.

Bowers led Georgia in every statistical receiving category last season, with 56 catches for 882 yards. His 13 touchdown catches were a school record. Seeing him sprint off the line and run his route just seems easier for him than it does anyone else in Georgia’s tight end room. He’s moves faster than everyone, but he looks effortless in doing so.

Before you know it, he’s created a few yards of separation from freshman Malaki Starks, the 5-star uber-athletic defender tasked with trying to cover him. Bowers is so open that quarterback Stetson Bennett has no problem finding him in a the team’s half-line pass drill against Georgia’s dime defense. It’s an easy completion to his favorite target.

Related: Georgia football practice observations: Pads come on, passing drill thoughts and NFL scouts come out

“A very difficult cover, and he’s very good with his body,” Co-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said. “His balance and ability to bounce off people is outstanding. He’s got outstanding hands.”

As Muschamp lays out, there are many reasons why Bowers is seen as one of the best players in all of college football. Nick Saban declared him as such prior to the national championship game. After roasting Alabama for 10 catches, 139 yards and a touchdown, Bowers scored another touchdown on Georgia’s final offensive play of the win.

The praise has only continued to roll in for Bowers. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic named Bowers one of the top athletic freaks in the sport. ESPN tabbed him as one of the top sophomores to watch this season.

Related: Trio of Georgia football standouts named to college football’s top freaks list

“They’re difficult to defend because number one, from just a football play standpoint, it’s not always necessarily about the scheme but about the players,” Muschamp said of the tight end room. “And then putting them in positions to be successful, and those guys take advantage of those situations as players.”

Washington and Gilbert were both on the team last season, yet for a variety of reasons neither had the season they thought they would. There’s hope in fall camp they’ll be able to fulfill that promise because there is always hope fin fall camp.

Bowers followed through on the hype and then some. A year ago, the discussion about the Georgia tight end room was about what it possibly could be. This year, we know what Bowers is capable of doing. Anything Georgia gets additionally from that is gravy.

“We didn’t have a Brock,” Washington said on the changes to the Georgia offense during his time in Athens. “He kind of flipped the switch a little bit,”

There’s real talk about Georgia’s tight end room being the best in the country. Bowers exemplifies perfectly why, as he still has barrels of upside to go along with his proven production.

Much like quarterback Stetson Bennett, he’s gone through the offseason knowing he will be the guy at the position for Georgia. This time last year he was just fighting for snaps and hoping to know the playbook.

“What there is going to be is maybe higher execution,” Smart said. “Maybe the capacity to handle a little more information and do a little more than we’ve done in the past, because guys are in the second year and third year, some cases, of doing it. So, you know, we’re going to challenge those guys to embrace the thought of doing more and embrace being better at your execution. It’s not what play you call, it’s how much better you do it than they do it.”

It will be tough for Bowers to top what he did last season from a statistical standpoint. It was easily the best season for a tight end in Georgia history. If he tops it, he might have the best season of any pass catcher to ever play for the program.

The Bulldogs have a more diversified arsenal this season. Washington and Gilbert are both healthy and competing at the tight end position. AD Mitchell and Dominick Blaylock are noticeably bigger at wide receiver, while Kearis Jackson is a touch faster. Arian Smith is fully healthy at the moment and Georgia likes what it has in Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh.

Yet even with all that talent and hope, it shouldn’t be forgotten what Bowers is for the Georgia offense. And what he can still be for the Bulldogs this season.

“We all have our different abilities, so if we just keep working on our strengths and weaknesses, that will really affect the game,” Washington said.

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