IN THE HUDDLE: Donald Bowens

Yet another rising star in the state of Florida is someone we discovered before his junior season began. Going to camps, combines, practices and games always uncovers some of the top players that many have never heard about. Here is one of those standouts.

During the spring and into the summer, www.floridakids.us will bring you our IN THE HUDDLE segments with football players throughout the state of Florida.

These are similar to the evaluations we pass on to the hundreds of colleges who visit our website, call us on the phone and correspond via e-mail.

Here is another top football player to keep an eye on this season – and beyond.

PLAYER: Donald Bowens
POSITION: WR
SCHOOL: St. Petersburg
HEIGHT: 6-3
WEIGHT: 185
40 SPEED: 4.5
HEAD COACH: Todd St. Louis
www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring Rating: 106


Donald Bowens
Last August, I had the pleasure of watching the first ever indoor high school football game ever when the TropicanaDome in St. Petersburg played host to three pre-season kickoff games.

As St. Petersburg High went through their pre-game warmups with Dunedin in the first game, I walked around and watched some of the promising players for the upcoming season.

One of the players who caught the attention of Charles Fishbein of FloridaKids.us was a rising junior receiver, who was tall, ran good pass patterns and showed signs of becoming one of the players to watch for the season.

"While a few people who were at the game said that he didn't appear to be a Division 1A prospect for the future, I can honestly say that I disagreed," Fishbein said. "As I watched Bowens run patterns and catch the ball, it was evident that this was one player to keep an eye on."

I remember Fishbein pointing Bowens out, and I began to watch him play, I agreed. Last summer, when my first list of 2006 came out, Bowen was not on the top 100. The list had appeared in the first week of August, three weeks before I saw him play.

So, this year, when the top 275 appeared the day after signing day, I made sure that Bowens was right there in the mix, and still, it took his outstanding performance at the recent Scout.com Combine at the University of South Florida for many recruiting analysts to see exactly what we had been talking about.

STRENGTHS: As you watch Bowens play, you get a sense that is someone with very raw talent. Last summer, when he played against a good Dunedin team, he had trouble getting off the line of scrimmage against some talented cornerbacks. That all changed during the course of a season.

When Coach St. Louis sent me a film in November, I could certainly see a player who made some major strides. He had changed his approach to playing the position.

In two months, someone convinced him that he needed to become more physical, and he listened. By the time his team played in its eighth game, Bowens was impressive, and by the time camps and combines opened, he became a player who nobody knew about when he got there, but was talked about after he left.

WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON: If there is anything that he needs to do to become one of those elite receivers we talked about, strength and the ability to continue getting up field. He also needs to learn that blocking is essential for any receiver who has plans of being an elite player.

Spring and summer will also see him starting to be matched up against better and better defensive backs, so he needs to rise to the occasion.

OVERALL: When I watched him play last summer, I had a feeling that Bowens would emerge into an athlete everyone would start to pay attention to. Now, as he gets ready for his final season, there is a good chance he could continue to turn heads.

COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: The University of Mississippi is just one of the programs starting to pay attention. Look for nearby USF, UCF and other schools to make a pitch for him over the next few months.

Get IN THE HUDDLE with some more of Florida's emerging stars:
IN THE HUDDLE – ROBERT LOVE
IN THE HUDDLE – CAZ PIUROWSKI
IN THE HUDDLE – STERLIN JAMES
IN THE HUDDLE – JOHN WARE
IN THE HUDDLE – MARKEVIOUS POWELL
IN THE HUDDLE – BILLY LOWE
IN THE HUDDLE – JAVON HILL
IN THE HUDDLE – CODY CLINTON
IN THE HUDDLE – JARED MARTIN
IN THE HUDDLE – COLIN MCCARTHY
IN THE HUDDLE - DONTAE JONES
IN THE HUDDLE - DAMON PIFER
IN THE HUDDLE - CHRIS SORCE
IN THE HUDDLE - SHOMARI GRANT
IN THE HUDDLE - DARRELL ROSEMAN
IN THE HUDDLE - JAMES POE
IN THE HUDDLE - RYAN ELLIS
IN THE HUDDLE - COURTNEY JONES
IN THE HUDDLE - BRYAN THOMAS
IN THE HUDDLE - JORDAN DALRYMPLE
IN THE HUDDLE - PRESTON PARKER
IN THE HUDDLE - SABBATH JOSEPH
IN THE HUDDLE - RYAN KHAWLY
IN THE HUDDLE - BRANDON JAMES
IN THE HUDDLE - KEITH HOUSTON
IN THE HUDDLE - REGGIE ODOM
IN THE HUDDLE - C.J. SPILLER
IN THE HUDDLE - RILEY COOPER
IN THE HUDDLE - JAMES JAMISON
IN THE HUDDLE - DESMOND GEE
IN THE HUDDLE - RICKY GARY
IN THE HUDDLE - LAURANCE MARIUS
IN THE HUDDLE - KENRICK ELLIS
IN THE HUDDLE - RICHARD JACKSON
IN THE HUDDLE - LABRANDON GLOVER

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