Now, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Bowen is committed to Penn State, the school he chose from more than two dozen offers.
"It really is crazy because I didn't expect it. I didn't think my highlight film was that impressive, but when (colleges) saw it, they really took a liking to it," Bowen said. "I really did not expect this at all.
"If you keep working and keep trying, anything is possible, and that is what this is all showing me. It's going inspire me and make me keep working."
Bowen, a four-star prospect, is the No. 23-ranked outside linebacker in the 2015 class.
He chose the Nittany Lions during a Saturday visit to campus, and helps Penn State with the sting of losing the commitment of four-star outside line Josh Barajas of Merrillville (Ind.) Andrean recently.
Bowen went to Penn State with the idea of committing, but it wasn't 100 percent until he was able to spend time on the campus again.
"I had it in my mind but I wasn't going to do it unless I felt like I wanted to," he said. "They really sold it to me, and I felt like that is where I wanted to be."
Once on campus, Bowen was again reminded why he liked Penn State so much, and why he made the decision.
"The family atmosphere and (linebackers) coach (Brent) Pry and coach (James) Franklin are definitely two guys I could see myself playing for," Bowen said. "They really put me before football. They really showed they cared about me and academics before football, and that football was second to the reason of me being there.
"But first, they wanted to make sure I am going to get a good education and that I'm going to be comfortable there. They showed my family that if I were to come there, I would be taken care of with all the hospitality. I just saw myself being there. It's just like home for me."
Bowen will play the "star" linebacker in Penn State's system, which will mirror what Vanderbilt ran under Franklin.
"He lines up over the slot. He stops screens, he came off the edge and blitzed, they send him up the middle sometimes," Bowen said. "They had him doing a series of things. They had him all over the field, and that's a position I could see myself playing."
With the decision behind Bowen, he now has different motivation getting ready for his future.
"It feels great. It's a lot of weight off my shoulders and I know where I am going," Bowen said. "Now, when I am training, I'm not just training for myself, I'm training for 107K now. It's exciting. I'm going hard for Penn State now, not just myself."