'He just works': Bowers proving his worth as Georgia's offensive X-Factor
Fort Lauderdale, FL. — Georgia head coach Kirby Smart knew that tight end Brock Bowers was going to be a special player during his recruiting process.
The freshman pass-catcher would send videos to the Bulldogs’ coaching staff of him working out.
“This was a guy that would put his phone up and go run up a mountain, or a hill out in Napa and sprint up the hill and back down the hill and send a video of it,” Smart said on Wednesday. “During COVID, we would challenge recruits to send us videos of them working out, and he embraced that. Like he worked out every day. He was wired differently.”
Those results have paid off for Bowers so far this season.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound tight end enters the Orange Bowl against No. 2 Michigan leading Georgia in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.
Bowers has hauled in 47 receptions for 791 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2021. He also has rushed for 56 yards on four attempts with a score. Bowers has topped the 100-yard mark four times this season, and also recorded two touchdown reception touchdowns in five games.
In his most recent performance, Bowers hauled in a season-high 10 receptions for 139 yards and one touchdown in Georgia’s loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
“When you combine good size and speed with great work ethic, you tend to get a good player,” Smart said. “But we felt pretty good that he was a special player while we were recruiting him, and then during the spring, he made some flash plays that we knew he was going to be a good player.”
Bowers has racked up a lot of accolades in his first year at UGA. He was named to the Associated Press All-America Second Team; True Freshman of the Year by ESPN and The Athletic; Coaches’ SEC Freshman of the Year; and Associated Press Newcomer of the Year.
He was also named a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top tight end. Bowers was also featured on the watch list for the fourth annual Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award, presented by the Maxwell Football Club and goes to the nation’s top freshman
Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken said that he first realized Bowers’ potential when the team would do stadium runs in the offseason.
“We would do it by position groups,” Monken explained. “Brock would take off right out of the jump. I wouldn't have done it as a young player; I would run with the pack. I would have run with the rest of the guys. Not Brock Bowers. Tight ends were running, he'd be 10 yards in front of every other guy. He was working at his own speed to be the best he could be, and that's a rare quality to put yourself out there like he did. So right away, you could see this guy is different.”
Monken said that Bowers’ work ethic is what separates him from the rest.
“He's going to continue to develop his skill set,” he added. “He's probably got more range than we thought. We knew he had the run-after-catch ability and we saw that on his tape. They used him in the backfield out of high school, but he's got a little more range than we thought, and he's continued to develop as a route runner. But he works awfully hard at his craft. It's important to him. He doesn't say a lot. He just works.”
Michigan defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who is a UGA graduate, called Bowers “one heck of a player.”
“The difference between a tight end and a receiver is that a receiver, you can build some things to find him, where he's at, and try to get multiple guys on him,” Macdonald said. “Tight end, it's a little bit more difficult. I guess it's just not the same, if that makes sense … I think the first thing you have to have is an awareness of where he's at, and if he's out of place, you have to understand that. And then just understand the things he likes to do from certain positions, so we can help try to slow him down as best we can.”
The Wolverines rank eleventh nationally in team pass efficiency defense, so Bowers will need to have a huge game for the Bulldogs if they want to advance to the national championship.
The kickoff between Georgia and Michigan is set for 7:30 p.m. EST at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on New Year’s Eve.
Here is the video from Smart’s press conference: