Even with a nine-hour road trip ahead of him, Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary's cornerback Richard Bowens III knew he wanted to make the visit.
After Iowa State offered Bowens in late January, the Cyclones quickly moved up the highly-regarded cornerback’s list in recent weeks. He had heard the message from coaches and figured he needed to see for himself.
So Bowens made the nine-hour drive to Ames.
“Coach [Matt] Campbell talks a lot about the culture and I wanted to see how the transition is going from Toledo to Iowa State,” Bowens said. “It is also one of my top schools — it’s up there in the Top-5 or whatever — so I wanted to see what they had in store and all the good things and the benefits that they talk about on the phone, I just wanted to see for myself in-person. I felt it was well worth it.”
The 6-foot-1 Bowens, who is ranked as the fifth-best cornerback in the Midwest in the 2017 class (and the No. 41 cornerback overall), holds a dozen offers, including ones from the likes of Minnesota, Syracuse, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Toledo and others in addition to Iowa State.
After hearing what Iowa State has to offer for nearly two months, what did Bowens think after his firsthand look?
“I feel like the program is definitely on the rise,” Bowens said. “All the success that they had at Toledo with the culture and the foundation that Coach Campbell built there, I see him trying to do the same thing with recruits that he brought in. I see them on the rise and I see them winning in the near future.
“The thing I liked was, last year they went 3-9 and with no professional teams in Iowa they say the football team, you pretty much are the professional team. To go 3-9 and still sell out every seat in there is pretty impressive.”
While Iowa State’s recruitment of Bowens is more recent, his relationship with this Iowa State staff is not. Bowens was being recruited to Toledo under Campbell and cornerbacks coach D.K. McDonald and said the relationship extends back more than a year.
Given the recent visit, he also says it’s stronger than ever.
“The relationship is definitely stronger now,” Bowens said. “When they were at Toledo they didn’t even offer me at Toledo. The relationship is definitely stronger now as I mature at my game and I have my junior highlight tape and after they visited my school. I think it’s stronger now. It has slowly built to something great.”
While Iowa State sees versatility in many of the defensive backs it recruits, it sees Bowens playing cornerback in the pass-heavy Big 12.
“They have a few man coverages and that’s what [Coach McDonald] likes about me is I’ll get physical in a receiver’s face and that’s where I fit into the defense,” Bowens said. “If they ever needed it I could go back and play safety, too, because I’m a leader back there.”
Bowens said Iowa State, Minnesota, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Miami (OH) and Bowling Green are the top schools sticking out while Michigan State, Indiana and Penn State are all showing some interest.
“After talking with the Iowa State coaches and talking with other coaches, out of the handful of offers I do have I’m satisfied and I feel one of those few places I named could be a fit,” Bowens said. “So I don’t think I’m going to wait until Feb. 3 with all the hats and commit then. I kind of want to focus on getting a state championship for my high school. I already have two and I want to get my third in a row, so I might commit before my senior year.”