Rowland keeping his options open

His parents are both Arizona State University graduates and he grew up a Sun Devil fan. However, with offers continuing to pour in, Peoria Centennial offensive lineman Nick Rowland is in no hurry to make a decision.

"I've been going to ASU games as long as I can remember," Rowland said. "Some of my best memories growing up were being at those games. It's too early to tell if I want to stay in-state because I really haven't taken any visits out of state. So I don't know if I would like it there or not."

The 6-4.5 296 Nick Rowland was offered earlier this week by Colorado. Arizona State was the first school to offer the lineman, followed by Stanford, Colorado State, California and Arizona. He said that UCLA may offer soon, and that he has sent game film to schools such as USC, LSU, Texas and Miami.

Rowland has started 28 games so far for the Coyotes at offensive guard, and has played mainly on the left side of the line. "Cal is projecting me at tackle possibly," he said. "I have a 79-inch arm reach and they like my arm reach. Other schools like me at left guard, but I don't mind if they want me to play right guard. I don't think it would be that hard to learn."

Peoria Centennial has captured three consecutive state championships. Rowland was the lone junior on the Arizona Republic's All-Arizona team, and was voted nationally to the MaxPreps All-American team. Rowland reported a 40-yard dash time of 5.2. He benches 365 lbs., squats 480 and power cleans 280. Rowland is excited for the 2009 season and feels that the Coyotes are in excellent position to capture a fourth consecutive championship. "We have nine returners on offense and four on defense," Rowland stated. "Everybody has been working very hard in the off-season. We won't be happy with anything less than the state championship and we have the talent to do it."

The ever humble lineman doesn't give much thought for his personal goals this season and simply stated: "I think that as long as we succeed as a team the personal accolades will follow."

Rowland's selflessness is also manifested in his after school work.

"Twice a week I volunteer to coach the Pee-Wee special education team," he said. "I'll also be doing some volunteering for the Special Olympics softball team. I really enjoy it and it's extremely rewarding.

"It helps your leadership skills and that naturally carries over to the football season. I missed out being a captain my junior year by a few votes, but I'm pretty confident I'll get voted captain my senior year."

By his admission Rowland "loves to block" and tries to pattern his game after New York Jets left guard Alan Faneca. "I'm pretty balanced with my pass blocking and run blocking," he said of his skills. "But I do like to pass block more because it's a little more of a challenge. I do need to improve on everything.

"I've been playing offensive line since I was five years old. So when I was watching the games I wasn't only watching what the offensive line was doing, but also what the defensive line is doing so I know how to react to it."

The two in-state schools are the only ones that Rowland has unofficially visited and he expects to take visits to both Stanford and Cal in the future. "If I go to visit a college and it just wows me there's no reason why I wouldn't commit early," Rowland stated. "But I don't know when I'm going to decide."

Rowland is looking for an environment that he would feel comfortable in, and one that he feels he has a good chance to build good relationships with the players and coaches. Arizona State certainly meets those qualifications, and the fact that the maroon and gold struggled in 2008 doesn't adversely impact his perception of the Sun Devils.

"Coach Erickson is a great coach," Rowland noted. "They played a lot of young players last year, and when sometimes they had to go against teams that had a lot of upperclassmen that was hard. But they had a good recruiting class and I know they'll be better."

As he analyzes the play of ASU's offensive line, Rowland does like the fact that the unit is called upon to pass block a lot. "They do have a good offensive coordinator," he said, "and he calls a very balanced game. I also like offensive line coach Gregg Smith."

The lineman plans to participate in the Armor Arizona combine, as well as the Arizona State team camp.

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