Garrett Bowman was so caught up with change last year that he sort of lost sight of a prize coming his way soon.
When he signed to play football with Western Carolina University early in 2018, Bowman faced numerous transitions. He’d be playing offense instead of defense. He’d be playing college ball rather than high school ball.
He’d be practicing and learning and not playing. He’d be away from home. And, he’d be packing on some weight to play offensive line.
All of it was enough to keep his mind and body busy.
Now that he has passed through all of that and seems on his way to significant playing time this fall, Bowman can look up and truly appreciate the opportunity coming hs way Nov. 23.
On that day, Bowman will step onto the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium, playing against the team he’s cheered for all of his life. He may even take the field as a starter.
“I knew we’d be playing Alabama,” Bowman said this week. “It was one of the (WCU) coaches’ recruiting tools a little bit to tell us wed’d be playing Alabama.
“It wasn’t as prevalent to me then but it’s become a lot more real now.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity to play Alabama. Not many people, especially from Arab, can say that. It’ll be a great experience.”
And, strangely, one he’s sort of experienced before.
“Years ago (in 2012), Western Carolinam played Alabama in Bryant-Denny, and I was at that game,” Bowman said. “It’s weird to think back I was watching a game I’d be a part of in the future.”
Bowman only went to a handful of Bama games but followed the Tide growing up.
“It’s pretty surreal,” he said. “I’ve watched them all my life and now I’m going to play at Bryant-Denny.”
First, though, is the matter of the 11 games the Catamounts play before they meet the Tide in the regular-season finale.
Bowman thinks he has a chance to be playing in a lot of those games after playing just one series last season.
“I think I’ve got a pretty good chance at starting or playing meaningful snaps,” he said.
Bowman’s offensive line career had its roots in his senior season at Arab under then-head coach Adam Glbert and then-defensive coordinator Kevin Collins.
Bowman, primarily a defensive lineman at the time, asked the coaches before his senior season if he could also play some at tight end. They agreed (he caught four passes for 48 yards and one TD) but also told him they needed him more on the defensive line.
He was 6-foot-4 and weighed 225 pounds and critical to the Knights’ defensive front. He proved that by making 46 tackles his senior season (72 for his career). He also had 20 career tackles for losses, including nine sacks.
Western Carolina coaches saw enough of Bowman on film on defense to believe he could make it as an offensive lineman – in time. He needed to put on weight, but he had the body frame to handle that.
“They like my athleticism, speed and strength,” Bowman said.
Add to that some weight, and the Catamounts might have a diamond in the rough.
Bowman has done his part. He weighed 24 pounds his freshman season. He’s up to 275-plus now, and coaches want him at 290 pounds by his senior season.
“I’m on the right track for that,” he said.
Bowman actually entered a good situation at WCU. The team had five senior redshirt offensive linemen who all were happy to show the new kid what he should do.
“They all played and showed me the ropes,” Bowman said. “They gave me advice that really helped me.
“They were really good guys and they definitely helped in my transition from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive side.
“Now that I’m in the system, I think I’ll have a lot more chances to play. And I have high hopes of being the starter by next season.”
First, though, there’s that game that’s circled on Nov. 23 this season.