Every so often, a great NFL player comes out of an under-recognized college program. Division II programs are often under-recognized and under-hyped, but the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) has a strong history of launching great players towards strong NFL careers. Some former PSAC athletes include Andre Reed, Brent Grimes, and John Kuhn. Clearly the conference is capable of generating NFL-caliber talent on a regular basis. Today, there is another young player in the PSAC with NFL-caliber talent. That player is Jordan Bowman.
Jordan Bowman is a versatile safety heading into his senior year at California University of Pennsylvania. He's played both safety positions effectively and has the talent and experience to be a strong contributor on special teams early in his NFL career. Not only is Jordan one of the most effective defenders in DII football, but he's also gotten progressively better as a player every season. As a freshman, Jordan generated 28 total tackles, a fumble recovery, 2 interceptions, and a half tackle for loss. As a sophomore, those numbers increased, with 39 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, and 4 interceptions. He continued to improve statistically as a junior, with 62 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and 5 interceptions. From a statistical perspective, he has improved every single season. That is due both to Jordan becoming more experienced as a player and to his extremely strong work ethic.
One thing that sticks out immediately to me about Jordan Bowman is that he is an extremely aggressive hard-nosed defender who is capable of breaking up passes and punishing receivers. He reads offenses extremely well, and quickly makes his way towards the ball. He hustles on every play, and quickly adjusts to changes in offensive formation. He's also a very skilled tackler with good form. He wraps well and doesn't just rely on impact to bring receivers and runners down. That will translate well to the NFL, where arm tackles and hits without wrapping will often result in broken tackles. He has some very nice upside just from watching the film (here's some film). However, when you consider him as an individual, he becomes even more enticing as a prospect.
We were fortunate to have an opportunity to interview Jordan (available here), and even though he has already become one of the best safeties in DII football, he's pushing himself hard to continue to improve. During the offseason, he works hard to find any weak points in his game and then focuses on improving in those areas. He's already a very good player, but as he says, "good is never good enough. There is always room for improvement." Jordan Bowman is an extremely driven player with a constant urge to get better. One of his strongest points as a player is his tendency to make big plays in big games; that is perhaps most clear in his becoming Coal Bowl MVP against Indiana University of Pennsylvania in a huge rivalry game. He is a great player every time that he touches the field, but he is also an extremely clutch player. Jordan Bowman produces under pressure in big games, and that will help him shine as an NFL player.
There are some other aspects of Jordan Bowman's mentality and experience that make him a strong choice for any NFL team in 2017. Although he's an already strong defender, Jordan is working to perfect his blitzing skills and man to man coverage skills. He recognizes that perfecting these skills will help him to excel at the NFL level, and he's already taking steps to strengthen these areas of his game, even though he is already extremely capable in both areas. This is a hard working player who will go out of his way to improve his game every step of the way. He's also driven, and prides himself in his football IQ and understanding of the game. With some players, pure athletic talent propels them into the national spotlight. Jordan Bowman has that athletic talent, but he also has the intangibles and the work ethic to stick as an NFL defender for years to come.
As a player, Bowman has already faced some adversity in his career. He's worked with three different position coaches and two defensive coordinators in his young career. This might have been difficult for most players to overcome, but Jordan Bowman has progressively improved every step of the way. He's a player that takes the time to learn and perfect his craft every step of the way, and can adjust quickly to different situations. This will help him to succeed in the NFL, where coaching staffs are not always stable.
Another key aspect of Jordan Bowman's game that will help him stick in the NFL is his special teams play. He's a versatile special teamer who has scored multiple times and made multiple big plays. While he won't need to rely on special teams to stick in the NFL (his ability as a defender should be enough for him to secure a roster spot), his skill as a special teamer will help him generate interest from NFL front offices. Not only can he offer strong depth with the talent to quickly become an NFL starter and star, but he can also contribute immediately as a solid core special teamer as he adjusts to the NFL.
Jordan Bowman is primed for an extremely strong senior season, and two games to watch this year are his big rivalry games against Slippery Rock (October 1st at 1 PM) and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (the Coal Bowl, October 8th at 7 PM). Although he's not a household name yet, he has the talent to be one of the top safeties in the 2017 NFL Draft. I expect a huge year out of him, and think that he has the talent, the drive, and the passion to be an extremely successful NFL player. If you're looking for a guy with massive upside to root for heading into the 2016 college football season, Jordan Bowman is your guy. Plus, while watching him, you'll get a chance to watch an extremely competitive conference in the PSAC. Don't sleep on Jordan Bowman. He is already an NFL caliber player who will only get better with another season of experience. This kid could be special. --Mike B.
Mike Bertasso and Matt Koontz will be posting on this page. Click here for more info about us!