Georgia football: From Napa to Athens, Brock Bowers making an early impact on Bulldogs' offense
When you mention the city of Napa, California, one thing immediately comes to mind: wine.
Probably the most famous alumni of Napa High School is Bill Buckner, who is remembered more for 1 play in the 1986 World Series than anything else he did in a very successful 2-plus decade Major League Baseball career.
So no, the high school that boasts a current enrollment a shade under 1,900 isn’t exactly mentioned in the same breath as, say, its Southern California counterparts of Mater Dei or St. John Bosco when it comes to football.
Perhaps Georgia tight end Brock Bowers can change that.
The kid certainly has the athletic bloodlines. Bowers’ parents met at Utah State; his father, Warren, an all-conference offensive lineman, and mother, DeAnna, one of the best softball players in school history. His older sister, Brianna, plays softball at Sacramento State.
So, naturally, Brock was going to take up sports growing up as well, eventually playing football and basketball at Napa High School. But football became his first love. He ended up as one of the top tight ends in the country and found himself on the recruiting radar of Kirby Smart and Georgia.
On Aug. 10, 2020, Bowers made the call to leave California and play for the Dawgs, spurning the opportunity to play closer to home at Washington.
And so far, so good for the true freshman. The first thing that jumps out: He’s fast.
“(He) boasts elite level athleticism, clocking a 4.5 40 as a sophomore and a 40-inch vertical (and) has the speed to burn a linebacker and separate from a defensive back,” 247Sports recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman wrote in his assessment of Bowers, likening him to former 1st-round pick Noah Fant.
Is the Fant comparison fair? Well, it’s obviously too early to tell as Bowers is just 2 games into his college career.
But with Darnell Washington out of the lineup due to injury, the Californian has made the most of his opportunities. He led the team in receptions against Clemson and followed with a headline performance, hauling in 2 of Stetson Bennett’s 5 touchdown passes against UAB on Saturday. That included an 88-yard catch and run play where Bowers showcased the speed that made him such a draw out of high school.
Tight ends usually don’t run this fast…
— Matt DeBary (@MattDeBary) September 11, 2021
“He works his tail off every day,” Smart said in August prior to the season. “He’s a joy to be around. He’s what you want in a football player. We’ve got to find a way to use his skill set. He has no expectations from me. My expectations for him are to go out and lay it on the line and compete every day.”
So far, Smart and offensive coordinator Todd Monken have done quite a fine job of utilizing his skill set. Along with Washington, other key members of the Georgia pass-catching corps, including George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock, haven’t played this year. Kearis Jackson is active but is limited after coming off an injury.
But even with those names on the injury report, outings like the one the offense delivered Saturday against the Blazers, helped by a 3-catch, 107-yard, 2-touchdown day by Bowers, certainly are encouraging. And as a few more of JT Daniels’ targets get healthy as the meat of the season approaches, the team will hope that Bowers remains a large piece of the puzzle. He has totaled 9 catches for 150 yards thus far and will have an opportunity to grow that number as the Bulldogs welcome South Carolina to Sanford Stadium on Sept. 18.
The Brock Bowers story is still in its very early stages. His coach, and Georgia fans as a whole, have to like what they’re seeing out of him thus far.
Who knows? Maybe Napa ends up being an untapped football hotbed, after all. And maybe the Dawgs have an X-factor on offense.