Before the California coaching staff headed down to Southern California for their one-day satellite camp at Fullerton College, the Bears had a few tasks to attend to, including working out Elite 11 quarterback Ross Bowers.
The Bothell (Wash.) standout worked out for offensive coordinator Tony Franklin "for about 15 minutes" on Saturday, before he was brought into head coach Sonny Dykes's office.
"They just wanted to see a couple throws, and that was kind of the workout in the morning, and then I took a campus tour, met with a lot of people and all that good stuff," Bowers said. "As soon as I got done throwing, they had me come up to their office with coach Dykes and coach Franklin, and then they offered me."
Bowers had attempted to visit Cal once before – last month between the Elite 11 and the NFTC in Hayward, Calif. – but his schedule and that of the coaches didn't quite sync up. Saturday was a quick one-day camp on the Cal campus, and that was the perfect time for Bowers and the staff to reconnect.
"They made it pretty clear before I even came that they would probably offer me a scholarship, so it wasn't a surprise, but it definitely was a blessing. It was awesome," Bowers said.
Saturday was Bowers' first time ever in Berkeley, and he was "blown away."
"I had no clue, and now, I'm just in love with it," said Bowers, who went on to say that he has narrowed his list of offers down to two: Cal and Colorado State.
"I think, in my heart, it's down to them and Colorado State," Bowers said. "I'm trying to figure out between those two who I want to commit to, where I think I'll be most happy, where I think I'd be the most successful. I've still got some time to talk to my dad and my mom and a couple of my other coaches just about the whole situation. I had no clue what they had going for them, until I got there yesterday, and kind of fell in love with it. It's a great place."
Bowers' mother and father were unable to make the trip because both were coaching at camps at their own respective universities, with Ross's mother the head coach of the Washington women's gymnastics team and Ross's father, John, coaches tight ends and fullbacks for James Madison, along with being their recruiting coordinator.
"My mom knows a decent amount about Cal, because her team goes to Berkeley to compete," Bowers said. "She's been there before and knows it's a beautiful area, and a beautiful school. My dad's been there a long time ago, but one of his very good friends is Mark Tommerdahl, and they go way back. They just have nothing but respect for each other. He trusts that staff a lot. He trusts coach Tommerdahl a lot. I'm sure that they love it, and especially having coaches as parents, they know that education comes first. It's one of the best educations in the country. You can't really say much negative about it."
Part of the calculus that Bowers will have to do before deciding is just how he fits into either the Rams' or the Bears' offense, and he's already started doing the math.
"I think I could fit in very well," Bowers said. "They brought up Graham Harrell a lot, who they coached at Texas Tech. They said that I was a lot like him, but more polished and just bigger, coming in. He threw for a million-some yards and a million touchdowns, and [Franklin] said he thinks I can do better than him. I know their offense, they love to throw it, and love to score points. That's what I love to do, so it's the perfect offense. They've got great coaches leading that offense, and you've got the new defensive staff, the new D-coordinator, so they'll be great."
Bowers – who will be competing in Beaverton, Ore., later this month as part of The Opening and the Elite 11 Finals – said that being a part of the Elite 11 has opened doors for him. One of those doors has been a friendship with one of last year's Elite 11 members, and current Cal freshman, Luke Rubenzer. The two have worked out together in Arizona with the same trainer – Dennis Guile – and formed a fast friendship based on shared experiences with the Elite 11.
"He was nice enough to take me under his wing and kind of walk me around and hang out with me for a little bit," Bowers said of his visit. "He walked me around the locker room, hung out with me for a little bit, and I got to meet all of the guys before we went out and threw. That was fun. That's who you're going to be spending all your time with, is those guys, and you like to see where you fit in with them and what they're about. I thought that they were good people. It's pretty cool."
'I'm just in love with it' says Bowers
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