Next stop: the league

CLEMSON - Record setting defensive end Da'Quan Bowers is on the fast track to the NFL, and he could be the first pick in this year's draft.


The following is an edited transcript of Saturday afternoon's press conference.

Opening statement
Bowers: First of all, I want to thank you guys for coming, at 4:30 on a Saturday. It means a lot. First of all, I just want to thank Clemson University for a terrific three years. It was my home. Unfortunately, I made the decision to leave. It was a very hard decision, but I thought it was the best decision for me and my family. Like I said, if it wasn't for these coaches and these players here, and the support group, like Tim and all the rest of the guys, I probably would have strayed away a little bit after I lost my father. It was very tough for me. Through it all, they were very supportive. I want to thank everybody at Clemson. It was a great couple of years. From Vickery Hall, to my tutors, everybody who made it possible for me to get this far this early, I'm only about 23 hours from graduating. I'm going to get my degree. I will finish that, sooner or later. I promised my family that. I just want to thank coach Swinney for supporting me and believing in me when nobody else did.

Were you torn? Were you leaning toward leaning early?
Bowers: I didn't make a decision until after the game. I took some days off and thought about it. With a decision like this, you never can be sure. I wanted to weigh out all of my options, the pros and the cons of the situation. I made my decision a few days after the bowl game. I'm happy with the decision I made.

What pushed you to make the decision?
Bowers: I thought I had a great career. I think I'm ready for the next challenge, at the NFL level. I had a great three years at Clemson. This was my best year. I did some outstanding things here for the university. It's an amazing position that I'm in right now. I'm truly blessed to be in the position that I am able actually to leave early and forgo my senior year.

What were some of your pros and what were some of the cons?
Bowers: The cons, basically, leaving Clemson, not getting my degree on time, leaving my family, my team, leaving on a bad note with a 6-7 year. The pros, I get a chance to fulfill a dream that I've always had. It was my father's dream for me to play in the NFL. I can live his dream. A great friend Gaines Adams didn't have the career that he planned, because of his passing. I can let his dream live through mine. I'd be here all day if I had to list them all. The ultimate goal, we all play football to play [professionally]. I just had the opportunity right now. I'm not promised this opportunity ever again in life, so I had to take it.

How did the decision making process go with your family?
Bowers: I got to Bamberg on Sunday, after the game. I talked to mom my about a couple of times on the phone. Me, her, my sisters, everybody sat down. We talked about it, prayed about it. One by one, I went around the room and asked them, what did they think. They all game me their reasons why I should stay and I why I should go. I gave them my reasons. And I came up with a decision.

What would it mean for you to be close to home, and on the Carolina Panthers?
Bowers: Anywhere I can get drafted, it will be a plus. That's a great opportunity. I'd love to go to Charlotte and play for the Panthers, and help them get to the championship game. It's close to home. It's only two hours from Bamberg. It's two hours from Clemson. I'd have a lot of support groups, a lot of people that can come watch me play—Clemson fans and Carolina fans. It would be a great opportunity for me to play in Charlotte with the Panthers. Wherever I'm drafted, I'm going to give them my all, my work ethic and leadership.

How excited were you when Andrew Luck announced he was staying?
It was [exciting]. Down at the college awards banquet in Orlando, I talked to Andrew. I was asking him what he was thinking. He didn't tell me. He said he was open, just as I was. I said, ‘If you decide to stay and I leave, thank you.' I was thanking him ahead of time…I was out driving when someone texted me phone and said he was staying. I was surprised. I thought he'd leave. It just opened up another door for me. I'm just blessed and thankful for it.

Have you talked to Nick Fairly since he said he was going to the NFL, too?
Bowers: I haven't talked to him since a couple of days before the national championship game. After a game like he played, how could he not go out? He had an awesome game. A couple sacks, a bunch of tackles for loss. He's a great player. He's going to be pushing me…it's a competition, so we're going to competitive with each other, because we're friends. He's going to push me. I'm going to push him. On draft day, we'll see who's the winner…

What's your schedule up until the combine?
Bowers: I just got in last night from Los Angeles. I'm out there training with Jarvis [Jenkins]. We're training for the combine, pro day and all that. I leave right back out tomorrow, to go to work on Monday.

Have you picked a management company?
Bowers: BTI Sports, out of Chicago.

Did the NFL labor situation factor in to your decision at all?
Bowers: The labor strike, it's definitely part of the decision. If it's in effect this year, it's in effect next played a part of my decision, but I was a well-thought out process.

Is your music career on pause?
Bowers: I played a couple of weeks ago. We hadn't had any shows since New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. I did those two shows. Next time they go out, I'm going to try to make as many as I can. I'm going to try to be there for that group. Top Stories