"One of my roommates is Brent Urban, who's pretty highly regarded (as a defensive lineman)," the Virginia offensive lineman told Packer Report. "He finished up last semester, so he's been living here and not doing anything while I've been busting my (butt). It's pretty frustrating sometimes to see him hanging out."
Bowanko grew up in suburban Washington, D.C. With his parents working for the government, he arrived at Virginia to get a degree that eventually would get him in with the FBI or CIA.
"That's in the bloodlines but my passion's always been for sports," he said. Ultimately, he switched his career focus to becoming a college athletic director. "This is another way to stay in the game after I'm done playing."
Of course, Bowanko has no intention of being done playing any time soon. The three-year starter recently had a predraft visit with the Packers.
"It went really well," he said. "It was a beautiful spring day in Green Bay. It was snowing and about 30 degrees. No, it was awesome. I'd never been to that part of the country before. I've been secluded over here on the East Coast. It was fun. It was a good trip, beautiful facilities. You're kind of in and out on those trips so you don't get to see much of the area but it was a lot of fun."
Bowanko (6-6, 302) wasn't invited to the Scouting Combine, which made Virginia's pro day and the Green Bay trip key to his NFL aspirations.
"They like to get to know a guy, get to know your football IQ and just you as a person," he said of the visit. "You bounce around with different personnel — the front office and a couple of coaches and the medical people and check all the boxes to make sure you're OK to play. It's like you're window shopping and they're window shopping you. You go around and talk football. It's pretty easy."
If the visit was about window shopping, Bowanko said he didn't need to act as his own salesman. He ended his career with 37 consecutive starts at center and guard and faced plenty of good competition. Clearly, the Packers have a good feel of Bowanko's abilities.
"A lot of that is already done with what you've put on tape the last four years," he said. "I'd like to think that does a lot of the selling for me. I'm a smarter guy that put a lot of work into learning the game. I've been blessed with having great coaches who worked me through a lot of things. Just talking football with guys who have done it and have been professionals for so long, I think that helps out a lot."
Bowanko brings versatility and intelligence. As a sophomore, he started 13 games at right guard, and he started all 12 games at center as a junior. As a senior, he started the first four games at left guard due to injuries before moving back to center for the final eight games. He was nominated for Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and the Wuerffel Trophy, two accolades that celebrate performance on the field, in the classroom and the community.
"For three-and-a-half or four semesters, I helped teach at local middle schools with one of my buddies," he said. "We'd go there once a week and help out with a few teachers. They really enjoyed it because it kind of brought some attention and some order to their classrooms. The kids loved it. They look up to us. It's fun going in there — even after losses, they could make you smile. It was a lot of fun. Different than shoveling mulch."
At his size, it's safe to say that Bowanko's presence kept spitball fights to a minimum.
"I was the authority. Just send them over to me and I'd rough them up a little," he said with a laugh.
Bowanko's intelligence is highly coveted at center, a position vital to coordinating the offensive line's assignments.
"It's a different task than just the bruising wrestling game that you play at guard," Bowanko said. "You've got to have the four other guys (on the line) trust you and the quarterback's obviously listening to your calls, too. It puts a lot of responsibility on you to know what you're doing. It's fun. It's like the game within the game."
Whether he's drafted or signed in college free agency, Bowanko said reaching the NFL will be a "surreal" experience and just the next step on a lifelong dream.
"Growing up as a kid, to think that one day you could make some money playing it professionally, it's just ridiculous," he said. "When it gets down to business, hopefully I can make a team and contribute. It's really surreal. It'll probably hit me down the road but, right now, my head's kind of spinning."