West Branch 2021 three-star defensive end Jeff Bowie is often too powerful for small-school competition. Matthew Bain, email@example.com
WEST BRANCH, Ia. — The life of a high-profile football prospect is hectic in the fall.
Just ask three-star defensive end Jeff Bowie. In the midst of a 7-0 season, the West Branch junior has thrown in Saturday game-day visits to Iowa (Sept. 7), Iowa State (Sept. 14) and Wisconsin (Sept. 21).
Bowie took last weekend off, though, for his school's homecoming dance.
"It's pretty important (to go)," Bowie said last Friday, before adding with a laugh: "And my girlfriend would be really mad at me (if I didn't)."
Bowie will get back to visits soon. He has one scheduled to Nebraska when the Huskers host the Hawkeyes on Nov. 29. Wisconsin has invited him to come visit again, and he'd like to get another visit in at Iowa. Other than that, Bowie will sift through game-day visit invitations to see if he'll schedule any more. Penn State and Minnesota are a couple possible destinations, he said.
These game-day visits are crucial in his decision-making process, Bowie said.
"Just experience the vibe everywhere," he said after West Branch beat Northeast Goose Lake 42-0 last Friday. "You can feel in different stadiums just a whole different energy from place to place, and it’s really nice to get to actually experience that before you make your commitment."
Bowie said he wants to at least play the season out and take more visits before he gets closer to making a decision. He said all schools that have offered him are in the running: Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska, Minnesota, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech.
"Just to make sure I can get the best fit for me," he said. "Trying not to rush anything because you only experience it once."
Notre Dame, Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Washington and Oregon have shown interest, and Michigan also has entered the picture recently.
Bowie, who checks in at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, is a consensus three-star prospect and a 2019 Iowa Eight member. 247Sports ranks him No. 394 overall prospect in 2021. He has 31 tackles, 10 solo tackles for loss and four solo sacks this fall.
Against Northeast, Bowie logged five tackles, one solo sack and a 93-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. The Register was on hand for that performance.
Here's a brief scouting report from what we saw:
Bowie is simply too big and powerful for most Class 1A offensive lineman. Often, Northeast wouldn't attempt to block Bowie and would run the play to whichever side he wasn't on. But when it did try to block Bowie, it didn't work. He routinely shed blockers with relative ease to disrupt plays. In the second quarter, he pushed aside two linemen for his sack. In the fourth quarter, three linemen couldn't stop Bowie from hurrying Northeast's quarterback and forcing an incompletion.
A kid like him is supposed to excel against small-school competition. When you've got an athletic, 6-5, 250-pound guy playing 1A football, you expect good numbers. And credit Bowie, because that's what he's doing. But, as is the case with any prospect from a small school, it's harder to predict how that high school performance will translate to Power 5 football. That's why camps are so valuable for college coaches. All indications are that Bowie has fared well against stronger competition at college camps.
Bowie's upside is undeniable. Regardless of his level of competition, Bowie has the building blocks of a player with considerable upside. He has a Power 5 frame and a Power 5 work ethic in the weight room, and he is producing at a high level. Plus, he comes from an excellent high school program. Upside is a big reason why Bowie holds six Power 5 offers, and why he could land a few more.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.
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