Georgia TE Brock Bowers Is Poised to Steal Spotlight at National Championship

Adam Kramer@kegsneggsNational College Football Lead WriterJanuary 9, 2022

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 31: Georgia Bulldogs tight end Brock Bowers (19) runs in the end zone for a touchdown during the Capital One Orange Bowl game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Michigan Wolverines on December 31, 2021 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fl.  (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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They can't help but scout him, even if it's a few years early. While Brock Bowers is still years away from being draft-eligible, curious NFL minds and eyes are already taking notice.

They have no choice. Turn on a Georgia game, and the Bulldogs' star freshman tight end is likely to do something spectacular. From his speed to his hands to his blocking, Bowers has delivered an impact from his position like few have at tight end. Not just this year, but any year.

Given Georgia's immense talent up and down the depth chart, making an impression can be difficult.

There's Jordan Davis, a 340-pound, space-eating senior defensive tackle sporting the neck the size of an oak tree. There's Nakobe Dean, a jetpack linebacker, quarterback tormentor and tackling machine. There's James Cook, younger brother to NFL star Dalvin Cook, who can run, catch and cripple defenses in an assortment of ways out of the backfield.

All three players are likely to realize their NFL futures and fortunes soon. They, of course, are not alone. And yet, the true freshman has found a way to fit right in while becoming the offensive centerpiece on one of the deepest and most talented rosters in college football.

"He's the next big thing at the position," one NFL source said.

John Bazemore/Associated Press

This season, Bowers led Georgia in catches (52), receiving yards (846) and touchdowns (12). His 12 scores aren't just the most ever for a freshman at Georgia; they're the most ever for a pass-catcher with the program. He's also run for a touchdown, showing off just how different he is.

He's done it all despite battling a shoulder injury through the back half of the season. If it's bothered him, it hasn't impacted his performance.

As the Bulldogs draw up ways to slow down Alabama quarterback Bryce Young in the national championship—something it failed to do in the SEC Championship Game when the two first played—Alabama will attempt to do the same with Bowers.

That might sound strange. He is a tight end, after all. But this is not a typical tight end.  

"I think this guy is one of the premier players in college football," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said of Bowers. "I know he's just a freshman. But this guy's got great size. He's a good blocker. He's physical. He's tough. And he's got wide receiver skills. This guy is just a phenomenal football player all the way around."

In the first matchup against Alabama, Bowers caught 10 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. While so much of that game plan went wrong, Bowers thrived throughout.

It's not supposed to look this easy for anyone against Alabama, let alone a freshman still supposed to be figuring it out. Bowers, who starred at Napa High School in California, traveled more than 2,500 miles to Georgia from his hometown.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 04: Brock Bowers #19 of the Georgia Bulldogs catches a pass over Christian Harris #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 04, 2021 in Atlanta, G
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Before arriving in Athens, Bowers was ranked as a 4-star recruit and the No. 3 tight end in the class of 2021, according to 247Sports. Given the depth of the roster and even the position, expectations entering the season were reserved.

The injury to George Pickens (torn ACL) this spring, the Bulldogs' No. 1 wideout, undoubtedly created an opening for Bowers to shine. With a wealth of talented pass-catchers on the roster—including former 5-star tight end Darnell Washington—Bowers still managed to crash up the depth chart before the season began.

Bowers finished with six catches against Clemson in the team's opening game. He went over 100 yards receiving the following week in Georgia's win over UAB—scoring his first two touchdowns of his career. It was his first of five multi-touchdown games this season.

"He's wired the right way," Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. "He works awfully hard at his craft. He only knows one speed. So right away we knew he'd be able to contribute. Did we know to this extent? Of course not. But once we saw him work, his skill set, we knew we had a chance to have somebody that we could rely on."

As the season progressed, the results were the same. From contested catches to meaningful blocks, Bowers morphed into one of the most important players on the No. 1 ranked team in college football.

Along the way, however, the emphasis has been on the defense. Before allowing 41 points to Alabama, Georgia had not given up more than 17 points in a single game.

The brilliance of this unit unquestionably stole the spotlight from the offense and Bowers throughout much of the year. Although even members of this group, which is likely to deliver multiple first-round draft picks in the spring, recognized Bowers' impact in practice.

John Amis/Associated Press

"Brock's a headache for the other team," said Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning, who was recently named the head coach at Oregon. "I'm glad he's on our team. In a lot of ways, Brock is like having another wideout out there on the field, obviously. He's extremely talented, does a great job catching the ball in tough situations. You definitely have to treat him different. You can't treat him like your standard tight end."

Against Michigan in the Orange Bowl, Bowers caught five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown, marking his fourth consecutive game with a score. He ultimately left the game early because of his shoulder injury. The lopsided score likely made that an easy decision.

Despite dealing with the injury, Bowers will play in the national championship Monday night in Indianapolis.

His performance, of course, could go a long way in carrying Georgia to victory. And if his effort against Alabama in the first game is any indication of what's to come, it seems likely Bowers will once again be a fixture with all eyes on the sport's final game.

And yes, NFL scouts will be watching. Of course they will be.

With so much talent across both sidelines, the national championship is likely to produce a slew of future stars in the pros. This will be a showcase for football excellence.

But it's possible the biggest star of the game won't be the Heisman-winning quarterback or the number of defensive stars. It could well be the freshman tight end, banged-up shoulder and all, who can't help but make an impression each time he takes the field.

And he's just getting started.