"We Walk!" #10: OL Jacob Gowan [#56]

Installment #10 in our scintillating 12-part "We Walk" series profiling Stanford's freshman walk-ons takes us to the imposing subject of Jacob Gowan, the only non-scholarship offensive lineman in the outstanding 2009 class. Realistically, "Plowin'" Gowan doesn't expect to take the field this first season, but he is learning quickly, has excellent size and is in possession of a positive attitude.

"We Walk!" #10: OL Jacob Gowan [#56]

Installment 10 in our scintillating 12-part series on Stanford's freshman walk-ons takes us to the subject of Jacob Gowan, the only non-scholarship offensive lineman in the 2009 class. Realistically, Gowan doesn't expect to see the field this first season, but he is learning quickly, has great size, and should be in a position to challenge in the years ahead. He also comes across as one of the more pleasant, mature, and outgoing freshmen ever encountered by The Bootleg.

The Bootleg: We're here with freshman walk-on offensive lineman Jacob Gowan.  It doesn't look like they're taking it easy on you out there. (Having just observed some rather grueling post-practice extra conditioning for Gowan and fellow freshman OL Khalil Wilkes)

Jacob Gowan: No, they're just doing what they have to do. I, along with one of my freshman buddies, was late to a meeting and [the conditioning] wasn't as hard as it could have been. They did a good job of giving us the right punishment for the right acts.

TB: So that was an "unsupervised" portion of the practice? No coaches? The offensive line tending to their own?

JG: Right. Accountability to the group!

TB: And you don't mind that?

JG: No. If you've done something wrong, you need to make up for it somehow and that was the best way to do it.

TB: It looks like you are fitting right in here. You're certainly not "small" - what do you want or expect your eventual playing weight to be?

JG: Right now I'm around 302, but it's in the wrong places. I'd like to be around 305 of muscle, not much extra drag.

TB: Is it a little bit unusual to be around so many guys your size and even bigger?

JG: I've never really played against too many guys my size before, but it's fun. It's a lot more challenging, but it is a lot of fun. I'm enjoying it - even the hard parts.

TB: Now in high school you started out at Anderson Valley High and then you switched to Santa Rosa's Cardinal Newman. What was the impetus for the switch?

JG: Well, my mom has a business in Rohnert Park, which is close to Santa Rosa, and she wanted to spend more time with us. Plus Anderson Valley wasn't going to have a varsity football team that next year and I wouldn't have been able to play. I really liked football and really wanted a chance to do all I can do with it.

TB: Can we get a free plug in – what kind of business does she run?

JG: Family-Life Magazine. It is a great magazine, family-oriented. [See additional note below]

TB: Did you start out as an offensive lineman as you came up through Pop Warner?

JG: I was always the offensive lineman. I was a chubby kid - I had to be a lineman (laughing).

TB: When did colleges first start taking interest in you as a football prospect?

JG: Probably the spring of my junior year. I started talking to a bunch of people. I began looking at Stanford a little bit and I really liked it...and I also talked to a bunch of other schools.

TB: Did you initiate the contact with Stanford?

JG: Yes, I sent out some film to them. This was my favorite school all along. I was just hoping to get a chance.

TB: Why was Stanford your favorite school?

JG: Just because it's Stanford (laughing). You've got to love it. I don't see how you couldn't.

TB: Was your thought always that you would be a walk-on possibility here or were you shooting for a scholarship early on?

JG: Early on, I was shooting for a scholarship, but then I realized that I wasn't quite refined enough or in the right position to get one. That kind of put a little bit of a damper on things, but I still really liked the school.

TB: You had a chance to visit unofficially?

JG: Unofficially. I took an unofficial visit, spent the night in a hotel with my parents and hung out with Sam Schwartzstein and David DeCastro a lot.

TB: Did you see any games at Stanford stadium then?

JG: Yes I have - the USC game last year. Stanford did really well in it and they're getting better every year. I'm really happy to be on the team - it is a great experience.

TB: It should be pretty easy for your family to get to games then.

JG: It's real easy. A train ride and a ferry ride.

TB: What about your offer situation? You knew you wanted to come here, but you must have been getting some interest from other schools.

JG: Princeton, Cornell and Brown were the other big ones. I also really liked UC-Davis because the coaches were really down- to-earth and really knew their stuff. Sac State and UNLV also offered, but I was looking more for the UC education style and I hoping to stay closer to home than UNLV.

TB: Did you take visits to any of those schools?

JG: I took official visits to Princeton, Brown, and Cornell.

TB: Those are pretty solid options…

JG: I really liked the Ivy League schools. It's a different style over there, but it's really nice.

TB: When you heard the news of your admission, what were the circumstances? We're assuming you were pretty excited about it...

JG: Beforehand, I had heard there wasn't going to be a scholarship offer available for me, so I was kind of down about that. When I was sure I got in, it made the decision a little bit harder because I could have gone elsewhere. Still, in the end I really liked the school and I really liked the guys. They were friendly even though I was an "unofficial", just coming to visit. It was a great atmosphere.

TB: Did the coaches give you an indication of your being able to come in here and play, or at least compete?

JG: They said you can come here and compete, and I just want a chance to get some reps in practices first and see where it takes me from here.

TB: Where do you feel your game is as far as holes and potential areas of improvement?

JG: Strength, I definitely need to work on and a lot of flexibility stuff. I have a lot of trouble with my hamstrings right now that I found out about when I got here. I need to work on stretching and getting more flexible. Then I need to work on my posture and stance. I have a lot of trouble with inside pass-blocking. The other guys are helping coach me up a lot before practice, critiquing my steps and just helping me move along.

TB: What is the difference in high school coaching versus what you've experienced here so far?

JG: It's a lot more individualized here. I love all my high school coaches at Anderson Valley and Cardinal Newman. They did a great job coaching and preparing me and they even helped me a bit during the summer to get ready for this. Here, there are a lot more single reps and a lot more one-person or two-people drills. In high school you don't have the time to do a bunch of different individualized stuff - you have to do "whole-line" exercises.

TB: Have you gotten any positive feedback from the coaches as far as things they like about your game?

JG: I'm told that I can stand in a hole pretty well. I guess the word that they've used is "stout". I need to work on being a little more "stout" in some areas, but I just have to keep working.

TB: Were you paying attention to the 2009 recruiting class as it was developing?

JG: Yes, I was. I actually met several of the other walk-ons on my Ivy League visits like (LB) Brent Etiz and (QB) Robbie Picazo. I met Robbie at Princeton and I really liked him. I knew a lot about the other players too. I looked them up online and they all seemed like good guys, hard workers and guys I'd like to be around.

TB: Who were some of the toughest opponents that you played against up there at Cardinal Newman? Anybody that stood out because you do have a decent league up there, right?

JG: Sure. A few guys [on my team] went Division I. Jeff Badger and Randy Wright went to Sacramento State and UC Davis respectively.

TB: You're going to play Sac State next year…

JG: Yeah, Jeff and I are really excited about that. Hopefully we'll get a rep or two against each other.

TB: You will be lobbying hard with Coach (Tim) Drevno, right?

JG: Oh yeah!

TB: Are you being slotted specifically for one particular position here? Right-sde? Left-side?

JG: I'm just going to go for guard and try to be interchangeable as far as side. That's something that will help the team a lot. I'm a little short for tackle and I probably don't have the quickness of feet that I'd like for that, so I'm going to try my best at staying at guard.

TB: Have you ever played center at all?

JG:  I haven't played center, but I would like to give it a shot there.

TB: What kind of offense were you running at Cardinal Newman? Were you pulling a lot?

JG: Spread. A lot of spread, but we did do a lot of pulling. It is pretty similar here. We have some of the exact same plays and a few pretty different ones.

TB: The terminology is a little bit different?

JG: The terminology is a lot different for me. That's probably the biggest struggle for me because they'd be talking about certain blocks and I just wouldn't get what they were saying because they're using what seemed like a different language.

TB: I know you had some productive backs behind you in high school – are you used to getting downfield? Here you also have some big-time guys behind you now that are going to be breaking off some long runs – do you like the idea of having to sustain those blocks and get down field?

JG: I like that. We had to do a lot of that in high school because we had a couple of really good backs. I'm really looking forward to pushing farther down the field and giving our backs some more room to go - get those guys some extra yards.

TB: Outstanding! We're really glad to have you and happy you made the decision to come to Stanford.

JG: I'm happy to be here and it's an honor to be around such great guys who are willing to push you and bring you up at the same time.

TB: You ready for school to start? YOu know what you will be studying?

JG: Not a chance..Not a chance in he _ _! (laughing). Excuse my language!

Bonus Notes:

Jacob's entrepreneurial mother, Sharon Gowan, is the founder, publisher and editor of an award-winning magazine, Family-Life Magazine, and a national award-winning website
 http://www.family-life.us/ The business is a purely local success story operating in beautiful Sonoma County, California (wine country!), now celebrating 17 years of providing 'All the best for families,' including important local news stories, community resource guides, and annual events such as the Family-Life Expo & Home Show, the Summer Camp Adventure Fair, and the Baby & Child Fair in addition to publishing Sonoma Family-Life Magazine and Mendo-Lake Family-Life Magazine, and their respective websites: www.sonomafamilylife.com and www.mendolakefamilylife.com. We certainly hope that all the best for families will now include Stanford Football Saturdays!

The "Dream Theme" Continues: At the time of his decision to come to Stanford, Gowan told the Santa Rosa-based www.pressdemocrat.com "It's always been a dream of mine to go to Stanford...and I never wanted to look back and think to myself - what would have happened if I didn't go. I didn't want it to linger. I really liked the other schools, but the Stanford education was important to me."

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