Coach Spotlight: Nigel Bowden
"It's easy to talk about Nigel," said Coach Hicks. "He's the quintessential student-athlete. If you looked up the word ‘student-athlete' in Webster's Dictionary, there should be a picture of Nigel.
"He's a hard-nosed football player. Like I was telling Coach Franklin and Coach Pry, as good as a player he is, Nigel's an even better person."
Hicks knows Bowden from coaching Georgia Class AAA. He came from Dougherty High School in Albany, Ga. where he served as head coach for two years. He also coached for eight years at nearby Baldwin High School in Milledgeville. Having more than a month to familiarize himself with Bowden, Hicks is very impressed with how Bowden's game has grown.
"Nigel has great instincts," Hicks stated. "He has a nose for the football, runs well downhill, and has excellent communication skills.
"I told him I think he can be the ultimate Mike linebacker. He does well reading coverages and conveying the information to his teammates. He also runs well for someone his size and does a great job tracking down the ball carrier. Usually he's a little ticked off when he gets there. We just need to tweak his reads a little, but he's as solid as they come."
Hicks, a former linebacker himself, thinks Vanderbilt is getting a gem in Nigel Bowden, who he says is outstanding in academics, athletics, and most of all, character.
"I was just talking with his Biology teacher and he told me Nigel has a 105 average," said Hicks. "I didn't even know that was possible. He has a 3.6 GPA. Everybody around here thinks he's great. We all love him.
"The way that he has grown physically as well as on the football field, I think he's one of the top linebackers in the country. People may think I'm biased because he's one of my players, but I truly believe it.
"He's the prototype of what you want to see in a ball player. He's worked hard here and matured as a leader. I look for him to continue to grow and develop and become not only one of the best linebackers for Vanderbilt, but also in the SEC."
Hicks will have some work to do at Central. The Chargers were just 2-8 in 2011. He said Bowden is constantly in the weight room even coming in during weekends. Bowden will take a break though on April 14th when he'll visit Nashville for the Black and Gold Spring Game.
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