Bowers Family Lives Life In The Trenches

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- He's moved around positions 3-4 times in his career, won and lost starting jobs, had a heart scare, and most recently has seen his father suffer kidney failure after battling diabetes. But senior nose tackle Keith Bowers, one of the more yeoman, hard-working Terps, doesn't complain -- for he has seen worse.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- He's moved around positions 3-4 times in his career, won and lost starting jobs, had a heart scare, and most recently has seen his father suffer kidney failure after battling diabetes.

But Maryland senior nose tackle Keith Bowers, one of the more yeoman, hard-working Terps, doesn't complain -- for he has seen worse.

The West Palm Beach, Fla., native with the ready smile, well, his family runs a homeless shelter back home, something Bowers has also been involved with over the years.

"One day my father saw a family eating out of a trash can," said Bowers of one of the reasons his father, Kenneth, started the shelter, Operation Hope.

His mother, Rene, was a reporter for the Palm Beach Post Gazette when, while on assignment profiling the shelter, she met Kenneth. Since then, they have devoted their lives and careers to their mission.

"For me, one of the toughest things that I saw was one of my classmates actually lived at the shelter," Bowers said. "I just realized people may have it worse than I do."

Bowers has always made the best of his situation, be it on the field or off, and he's doing it now for the Terps as co-starter at nose tackle with senior Darius Kilgo.

Said Randy Edsall of his senior Bowers as camp wound down this week:

"Keith's having a really good camp," Edsall said. "Keith is one of those guys who's got a good motor, he goes hard all the time, he's gotten stronger. He's one of the stronger guys we have on our team. Plays with a lot of energy. And again, I think the complement that he and Darius give our team is something that makes us better. Both those guys will end up playing, and doing certain things for us, but Keith's had a real good pre-season so far."

Bowers has had a compelling transformation since he stepped on campus four years ago, going from a 6-foot-1, 230-pound defensive end to a 6-1, 285-pound nose tackle now.

"Definitely just getting bigger and stronger, and physically I feel better. This offseason I took the initiative to eat better and try to eat fit," Bowers said.

Bowers said he prepped all his meals, added more vegetables, lean meats, and not as much fast food. And he looks a bit quicker for it as he was seen this week at practice breaking up a pass downfield.

He and Kilgo, the other senior Terps' nose, bring different qualities to the table. Bowers is quicker and more athletic and lateral, while Kilgo is more of a true plugger and run- stuffer inside. He said the two worked to get each other better, all summer in workouts as well as the film room.

"I mean definitely, like you said he Is one of the strongest guys, he's got pretty good strength," Bowers said of Kilgo. "And like you said, I am probably the quicker of the two of us and he's like a stout dude in there. So we can give a lot of teams different looks as far as them having to adjust when we rotate in and out."

The two are splitting first team reps 50-50, and will contribute much this season for this veteran group led by seniors and juniors. Last season, Bowers played in 13 games with nine starts, racking up 32 tackles, including a career-best nine stops against Virginia.

"I am just trying to be a leader, communicate as much as possible," Bowers said. "I look at a backfield set and I can tell what kind of plays are coming. And I just try to be real aggressive, penetrate the line of scrimmage as much as possible, hold the point and be able to run sideline to sideline. Those are the kinds of things I try to bring to the table every day."

Bowers said new defensive line coach Chad Wilt has helped Bowers immensely with his hands, which in the past was one of his weaknesses. He also said the new coach will play music in the film room to keep things light.

"Those are the things that make me better, striking my feet and moving my feet better," said Bowers, who calls himself his biggest critic. He also said he wants to perfect his technique so he can get off blocks better and hold the point on double teams.

Bowers said he looks forward to the new conference this fall, and to tangle with different linemen in the trenches. But he said he's more worried about his own game than any others or buying into the hype of the Big Ten and their "big nasties."

He worked summers at Operation Hope, assisting at sports camps for youth, and sees himself down the road perhaps doing much the same.

"I always wanted to be somebody that helped my community, so probably sometime in the future I will be able to do that as well," said Bowers, whose father is recovered and now doing fine. His entire family plans to be at the UMD-USF game Week 2 this year. "I don't think I am going to be able to shy away from that. And there's so many homeless in Palm Beach County that nobody is dealing with... so I just feel that for my father to take that responsibility upon himself, and my momma to sacrifice so much to do it with him because she put her career in the back of her head to do this."

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