Georgia TE Brock Bowers ready to ‘run it back again’

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Credit: TNS

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Georgia tight end Brock Bowers scores on a 15-yard pass to take a 26-18 lead over Alabama during the fourth quarter in the College Football Playoff Championship game on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. (Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

ATHENS – Brock Bowers is not turning pro and has no plans to enter the transfer portal. That, in itself, is reason to celebrate Georgia’s tight end.

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Another reason is that Brock was named the college football freshman of the year Monday by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound freshman established a UGA record for touchdowns in a season with 13 and led the Bulldogs with 882 yards receiving on 56 catches as Georgia broke through to win its first national championship in 41 years.

Bowers joined other FWAA college football award recipients on a video conference call Monday night. That meant Bowers was available for a general media interview for the first time all season. Georgia coach Kirby Smart doesn’t allow freshmen to be interviewed.

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Now an academic sophomore and the recipient of a lucrative NIL representation deal with Everett Sports Marketing, Bowers answered 13 questions over a span of 10 minutes, including one from South Carolina coach Shane Beamer.

“So, can we confirm that he is just a freshman?” cracked Beamer, a former tight ends coach under Kirby Smart at Georgia. “Do we still have at least two more years of having to compete against him?”

That fact was confirmed.

“My 8-year-old son was in here listening to Brock and said, ‘wait a minute, he’s just a freshman?’ I said, ‘yeah, buddy, he’s just a freshman,’” said Beamer, who was listening in as the FWAA’s co-recipient of first-year coach of the year award (along with Tennessee’s Josh Heupel). “He said, ‘man, I thought he was a senior and gone,’ and he walked out of the room disappointed.”

Of course, in the age of the NCAA’s transfer portal, players’ contentment is judged weekly, not just yearly. But Bowers made it clear Monday that he loves living in Athens and playing football for the Bulldogs.

And why wouldn’t he? He’s the star offensive player on the reigning national champions.

“Man, it’s been awesome,” Bowers beamed. “I love Athens. I just love the people, the football and just all the people I’m surrounded by. The whole community is just awesome. And being able to hunt and fish when I want to or just hang out, I just don’t think I’d want to be anywhere else but here.”

Bowers’ rise at Georgia has been meteoric. Forgotten by many at this point is the fact that he did not get a senior season at Napa High School. Like all the California schools, athletic competition was banned in 2020 as a precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But that didn’t deter the Bulldogs and tight ends coach Todd Hartley from vigorously pursuing Bowers. Playing a myriad of positions in high school, including running back, Bowers was a consensus 4-star prospect and ranked as the No. 3 tight end in the country by 247Sports.

Bowers said one of the reasons he chose UGA over his many West Coast options was most of the Pac-12 schools are located in major cities. He liked the relative placidity of Athens and access to outdoor sports and activities while remaining in reasonable proximity to urban life.

He said his reintroduction to football a year ago, however, was a shock.

“Coming in early definitely helped,” Bowers said. “But I had no clue what to expect coming in. … Playing in spring ball, I was just getting my butt beat by some of the dudes out there. It got me going back in a football mindset.”

Eventually, it was Bowers who ended up doing the beating. By the end of the season, he proved to be a matchup nightmare for every opponent Georgia faced. Even in the SEC Championship game loss to Alabama, Bowers established a record for tight ends in the title game with 10 catches for 139 yards and a score.

“This guy is one of the premier players in college football,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “I know he’s just a freshman, but this guy’s got great size, he’s a good blocker, physical and he’s tough. He’s got wide receiver skills in every way, shape or form. That makes it difficult, being a bigger guy, for bigger guys to cover him, and makes it also difficult for smaller guys to cover him. So, this guy is just a phenomenal football player all the way around.”

Bowers was the Crimson Tide’s primary offensive focus in the national-championship showdown. He still managed a team-best four receptions, finished with 36 yards and scored a 15-yard touchdown.

Bowers’ most recent act as a Bulldog was participating in a parade and a championship celebration attended by a couple of hundred thousand fans.

“Dude, it was awesome,” Bowers said. “Just seeing all those videos and all those people out in the streets, shoot, everybody’s just loving it here at Georgia. They’re all so proud and supportive of us and still saying congrats. Everybody’s still so excited about it and that’s so exciting to see.”

It will be exciting for fans to see Bowers back in his now-familiar No. 19 Georgia jersey next season as well. Bowers is now the lead Dog in what he believes is “one of the best position groups in the country.”

So, what does he do for an encore?

“Shoot, I don’t know,” Bowers said. “It’s just kind of back to work. From here to the season, we’ll just be trying to get the team better and keep the winning going. We just want to run it back again.”

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