ATHENS — Todd Hartley knows he’s got a great job. He’s the highest-paid tight ends coach in the country. He gets to work at his alma mater.
He also gets to coach Brock Bowers, one of the best Georgia football players of all time.
“He’s extremely talented. He can run, he can jump, he can catch, he’s tough,” Hartley said. “What makes him special to me is his competitiveness. He is the ultimate competitor. The kid doesn’t want to lose at anything.”
Bowers led Georgia in receiving in each of his first two seasons working with Hartley. He’s scored 24 touchdowns in his first two years in Athens, taking home All-American honors and winning the Mackey Award for being the best tight end in college football.
Hartley knows his job is to find ways to make Bowers even better. That’s maybe the hardest part of it for Hartley.
So to find ways to get the absolute most out of Bowers, Hartley looks to some of the best players in the NFL as examples.
“You constantly are trying to find clips from a (Travis) Kelce or a (George) Kittle or the great tight ends,” Hartley said. “And you’re looking at things that they do that are similar to what we do that we can show Brock. ‘He maybe at the top of your route, you can sink your hips a little bit more. you can rage out of your break a little bit faster to create more separation. That way you don’t have to make that superstar catch with the guy draped all over you. If you sink your hips like Travis Kelce, you’ll have more space and separation at the top of the route.’”
Bowers will likely be joining Kittle and Kelce in the NFL next season, with many already projecting Bowers to be a top pick in next year’s draft.
In all likelihood, this will be Hartley’s final year coaching Bowers. Georgia is still well set up at the position moving forward, with Oscar Delp, Lawson Luckie and Pearce Spurlin were all highly rated as prospects and Hartley has liked what he’s seen from each of them to this point in their college careers. Delp in particular earned praise for how much he has grown following Darnell Washington’s departure to the NFL.
Hartley though expects Bowers to have an impact on Georgia’s tight end room long after he’s gone. At some point, Hartley will probably be showing future Georgia tight ends what Bowers is doing as an NFL player to help reach that next wave of Georgia tight ends.
“He set a standard of how to practice at tight end,” Hartley said. “He set a standard of how to watch tape at tight end. The best thing for Oscar Delp is seeing how Brock Bowers does it. The best thing for seeing Lawson Luckie and Pearce Spurlin is seeing how Brock Bowers does it. Hopefully long after he’s gone, the legacy he’s left stays for many years about how you’re supposed to work, how you’re supposed to approach each day and how you become a pro, man.
“Because that guy is a pro in everything he does and hopefully that leaves a lasting legacy.”
Hartley is pretty blunt when speaking about Bowers. There isn’t much more that can be said about a player who has already accomplished so much for Georgia, and yet still wants to be the best he can be for his team.
That makes Hartley’s job easier. Not just today, but moving forward as well.
“I just try to not mess him up, I guess,” Hartley said. “He challenges me to find new ways to reach him. He challenges me to continue to find new ways to make him a better tight end.”