Living Up to the Hype

CLEMSON - It didn't take long this spring to learn freshman end Da'Quan Bowers was as good as advertised.

Think about how many times in life you've expected one thing, but got something else.

Maybe you were supposed see a "good movie," at the recommendation of a close friend, but you finish watching it wonder why in the world you paid 10 bucks (or more) to see such trash.

Or maybe you bought a used car at a bargain price, only to have it need massive repairs just a few weeks later. That stupid radiator.

Perhaps it was a date with the "prettiest girl" in school only to find out she couldn't carry a conversation. Okay bad example but you get the point.

Such is life and many times, such is recruiting.

Every year it happens all across the landscape of college football- players who were once thought of as future first-round draft picks simply don't live up to expectations or bomb out completely.

While it's happened at Clemson over the years, just like everywhere else, it didn't happen this spring. And it didn't happen with the nation's No. 2 prospect in the 2008 recruiting class in defensive end Da'Quan Bowers.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, yes it's only spring practice and yes he's yet to play in an actual game. We get that. But still, to see and hear the impact Bowers had on Clemson's defense in just his first 15 practices is quite impressive.

Case in point: in the annual Orange & White game in Death Valley, he led the White squad with seven tackles, including two sacks.

Routinely, he made plays you generally don't see from true freshmen. Then again, Bowers looks and acts anything like a first-year player.

And it wasn't just one practice or one scrimmage, it was the entire spring practice Bowers' efforts were being recognized. At times, he made it difficult for Clemson's offensive tackles to do ... well anything. At least anything positive.

"He had a pretty productive spring," said head coach Tommy Bowden. "You see what he's able to do and it reminds you of players older with much more experience, and then you remember he's just a freshman. He doesn't look like a freshman."

While Bowers didn't overtake junior Kevin Alexander at strong side end, it doesn't really matter. He's going to play and he's going to play early in his career and he's going to play early in the first game of the 2008 season against Alabama.

"It's not a question of whether or not he gets in," said Bowden. "It's when. Is it the fifth play? The seventh play? The first?"

The always humble Bowers, of course, will have none of it. After his spring practice he wasn't out there pounding his chest, playing up the idea he already moved from the fourth team to almost being bracketed with Alexander on the first.

It's just business as usual- except this time it comes in the spotlight of a major FBS football program instead of the quiet practice fields of Bamberg-Ehrhardt.

"It's been an adjustment for me," Bowers said. "Everything from class to all the workouts to just getting used to being away from home to waking up early. I'm glad I came this spring because that puts me a better position this fall. I'd tell any incoming freshman that this is the way to go."

Too bad most incoming freshmen don't have Bowers' credentials - 6-5, 270, with legitimate times in the 40-yard dash under 4.7 seconds.

That would be the way to go, indeed.

But still, in the crazed world of college football recruiting, it's somewhat refreshing to find a kid that is A) so far lived up to the "freakish athlete of the century" label by recruiting services like B) so humble and C) just seems to get "it."

Now if he could somehow get me my 10 bucks back for going to the last "chick-flic" with my wife ... well then he'd be on an entirely different level. Top Stories