While his academic concentration at West Virginia University is listed in the team media guide as exercise physiology, junior safety Nate Sowers might want to look at getting a dual degree in kinesiology. It certainly makes sense, what with all the moving the Martinsburg native has done since entering the program in the fall of 2005 as a heralded quarterback recruit.
After spending the first portion of his career behind center (which, at WVU means lined up in the shotgun), Sowers went from throwing passes to receiving them midway through his redshirt freshman campaign.
And, roughly a year later, the former Kennedy Award winner continued his trip around the field, moving from slot receiver to safety near the end of the 2007 regular season.
From the looks of things, the third time has indeed been a charm for Sowers. Midway through fall camp, the junior is battling for a starting spot at bandit safety. While the end result looks promising for Sowers, the long, strange trip to this point has been a learning experience.
"I still have a lot of work to do," he said following Saturday's scrimmage. "I'm still getting used to the defense a little bit, but I'm getting better and that's what camp is all about."
Making the move to defense in the midst of the regular season last fall meant that the coaching staff didn't exactly have a chance to give Sowers anything more than a crash course on his new position. Still, using the making lemons from lemonade analogy as a guide, he was able to at least pick up a few of the nuances of his new position in the limited time allotted near the end of last season.
"I just tried to pick up little things here and there," he recalled. "Basically, I picked up general concepts from that and started watching film."
While on the surface that may not sound like much, it at least gave Sowers a base to work from when he took the field at safety full-time in the spring. In 15 spring practices with new safeties coach Steve Dunlap, the well-traveled defender was able to add to what he had learned during the final few weeks of the 2007 season.
In short, the spring of 2008 was the turning point.
"Going through the spring was almost like being a freshman again, with the coaches helping me out and even the older guys like Quinton (Andrews) and Boogie (Allen) helping me out," Sowers said. "It was different, but spring really helped me out a lot."
And from what he picked up in spring drills, he has been able to build upon during the first week of fall camp. This brings us to the present where, as mentioned above, Sowers is locked in an intense battle with Andrews for the right to take the field with the first-string defense in the season opener against Villanova.
Although the ‘Nova game is still a few weeks off, Sowers and his teammates admittedly cannot help but peek ahead if even just for a second. Anything more than a peek, though, is nothing but a waste of time. As Sowers himself says, there is still a long way to go, both for him, and the team.
"It's still a work in progress, but I'm getting more comfortable by the day," he said. "I've just got to keep on working and hopefully catch up so something good will happen.
"The first week went by pretty quick. I shouldn't say that because we still have another week left, but it's going pretty well. There is a sense of urgency, and we have to have that all the time from day one because that's what Coach Stewart preaches."