A whirlwind trip for Bowers

CLEMSON - Now that Da'Quan Bowers' barnstorming awards tour is over, he can focus on the next task at hand—finishing his junior season with a win.

First stop was Charlotte for the ACC banquet, where he picked up ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was back in the Queen City a few days later to receive the Bronko Nagurski Award, which goes to the nation's top defensive player.

Bowers also won the Ted Hendricks Award for the nation's top defensive end.

Along with a trip to Houston, he was also invited to Orlando for the ESPN College Football Awards show.

"It was a blast," Bowers said after Monday's bowl practice. "I just wish all college athletes could experience it."

He earned the right to the experience because of his play of the field.

The junior leads the nation in sacks with 15½ and is second with 25 tackles for loss. His sack total is the second-best single-season output by a Clemson player. The tackle for loss are the most by a Clemson defensive lineman since 1991, when Rob Bodine had 27.

Bowers is now faced with a rather important decision.

And plenty of folks have let him know that he'd be crazy if he decided to return to Clemson for one more season.

"That's what everybody says. I hear it on Facebook and Twitter. Every time I talk to a person about leaving, they tell me I'd be crazy to come back," he said. "It's not all about the money. It's not all about the fame and glory. I have bigger dreams than the NFL. It's all about making the right decision and being smart about it."

After the bowl game, Bowers plans to head back home to Bamberg. Then, No. 93 will decide whether or not he'll return for the 2011 season.

"I'm just going to take some time out and think about the pros and cons of the situations," he said. "I'll make my decision and call coach [Dabo] Swinney."

Bowers and Swinney recently sat down to talk discuss the decision.

Part of the conversation included Swinney filling him in on the current NFL collective bargaining agreement, which expires in the spring, nearly two months after the deadline to declare for the draft.

"I'm grateful for him and his knowledge of what's going on out there," Bowers said. "I just needed the education to help my decision."

And there are several of intriguing reasons why he's mulling a return for one more year.

First, there's the diploma that he promised his mother and late-father, and Bowers is "about" 20 hours away from that.

Plus, there are relationships and experiences that he'd be leaving behind.

"Just being with my team next year, experiencing what it's like to be a senior in college…being a senior at Clemson is something special," Bowers said.

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