Bowdren glad he stayedSeptember 8, 2006
by David Shelton, Special to the Post & Courier
|Senior Brett Bowdren is a mainstay on the Buc defensive line|
Following Charleston Southern's 1-11 season back in 2003, the program suffered a mass exodus of players. Head coach Jay Mills and his staff had suffered through a miserable campaign that began with the loss of their starting quarterback and ended with an embarrasing loss to in-state rival Coastal Carolina.
Among the players considering leaving CSU was Brett Bowdren, a redshirt freshman defensive lineman from Goose Creek. Bowdren was unsure about the direction of the program, and wasn't used to losing after playing three years at Stratford High School, where he was a member of the 1999 state championship team.
"I thought long and hard about going somewhere else, anywhere else," Bowdren said this week. "I actually went into Coach Mills' office and was ready to tell him I was leaving. For some reason, I stopped myself. I didn't do it. It sounds strange but something inside me just told me not to quit. I've never been a quitter and I just couldn't quit on this."
Bowdren stuck with the Bucs and has been a mainstay on the defensive front at nose guard ever since. The 5-11, 275-pound senior picked up a career-high four tackles in last year's Big South title-clinching win over Coastal Carolina.
"I'm so glad I stuck it out," said Bowdren. "Not only because we won the championship, but this was where I needed to be. It's been a long, hard struggle but that makes it even sweeter looking back. To know that I could have left but I didn't. I stayed here with my teammates and together we did something very special."
CSU defensive coordinator Steve Barrows calls Bowdren a team leader, despite the fact that he does not put up hefty numbers.
"Brett is just one of those guys you have to have in the program if you're going to win," said Barrows. "He's not flashy and most of what he does goes unnoticed by the average fan. Brett is just a very consistent football player. He has great football intelligence and he is constantly working to get better. He's one of those guys you can count on, a guy you can trust. His numbers are not indicative of how important he is to this program, and our players respect him a great deal."
As an All-Lowcountry and all-region selection coming out of Stratford, Bowdren admits he had visions of big numbers on the college level. However, his primary job is to contain the opposing offensive linemen so CSU's linebackers can be free to make plays. Somewhat of a blocking dummy?
"I guess that's what I do," Bowdren said, laughing. "I try to make tackles when I can and I'd love to make plenty more than I do, but in our defense, that's not my role. Our linebackers make a lot of plays for us. They're an awesome group back there behind me. I guess I can take some pride in the fact that they are making a lot of tackles, because that means I am taking on the guards and the center and doing my job well. I love it."
Last week, the Bucs snapped a 12-game losing streak to Presbyterian. The win was just another small step toward gaining the respect of those who follow the game. Picking up a win this Saturday night against crosstown rival The Citadel would make an even bigger statement.
"We're trying to focus on this game as our second game of the season, a game that we need to win in order to keep our hopes of bigger things alive," he said. "But, it's The Citadel. In the back of our minds we know what a win this week would do in terms of gaining respect around Charleston. Last week was a big win. Beating Coastal last year was a big win. Winning on Saturday would top it all, no doubt about it. We'll give it our best shot and see what happens."
Last Sunday, as Bowdren was leaving church, a lady came up to him and asked if he was a CSU football player. At first, Bowdren was taken aback, because he had no idea that anyone knew he played for the Bucs. He smiled and nodded proudly, saying "Yes ma'am, I play for Charleston Southern." The lady patted him on the back and replied, "Go CSU!"
Now Brett Bowdren knows he made the right decision. "I'm proud to be a Buccaneer," he said.