Steps Forward, Step Back

Many people were surprised redshirt freshman offensive lineman Cole Bowers earned playing time and a shot for a starting position on the offensive line. After an impressive performance during spring practice and fall camp, Bowers thrust himself into the rotation at right guard and right tackle.

However, when it came time for Bowers' debut on the playing field as a Mountaineer, things went far from planned. After playing through and getting adjusted to the game in the first half, Bowers came out as one of the team's starting linemen in the second half and was injured on his first play of the third quarter, spraining his MCL.

"It was pretty frustrating," said Bowers. "It was like I finally got my chance and I was ready to go out in the second half, I had all of the jitters out and the first play that I got in, I got hurt."

Bowers has been working diligently in hopes of being able to make it back for West Virginia's Friday night matchup against Marshall. The Ona, W.Va. native says that not only did the majority of his high school, Cabell Midland, opt to go to Marshall instead of heading north to Morgantown, but his cousin, Chris Bowers, is an offensive lineman for the Thundering Herd as well.

"It's going to be an exciting day," said Bowers. "We've looked forward to it ever since I committed to West Virginia and he was already at Marshall. I'm just excited. My cousin commented that my grandfather are going to be wearing a double sided hat with WVU and Marshall and whenever offense is on the field, he's going to flip it. We've just been supporting each other and hope that it's a good game."

Bowers was one of the few people in Ona that decided to leave his home area when he committed to the Mountaineers. While there were some who wished that he would have stayed close to home, Bowers says his decision garnered mostly support from members of his hometown.

"I had supporters," Bowers said of his choice to go to WVU. "I had people that ribbed me but I also had supporters. I mean, Ona is pretty close to Huntington, West Virginia, it's only twenty miles down the road if that. So I think a lot of them are going to be rooting for Marshall."

Whether Bowers will be a target of that is still up in the air, as he recovers from the injury, but he has been doing everything he can to play in the game that he has been looking forward to for so long.

"I'm feeling great," said Bowers. "I've made a lot of progress in the past few days. Just rest, ice, and rehab. I'm feeling good. I'm not sure what the process is going to be like on Friday but it's looking good right now. When I talked to the team doctor he was kind of questionable about it. He just said that it's a day to day process and that I'm looking good and making a lot of progress."

Being one of the many instate players for the Mountaineers, Bowers recognizes feelings attached to the game by many, and is hoping that his team will earn the yearly bragging rights during Friday night's game.

"Coach [Stewart] has been describing it as the state pride," said Bowers of the instate rivalry. "Who is going to represent their program the best? Who is going to represent West Virginia? Who is the better program?"

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