January 14, 2008

Bower ready to compete at Tulsa

After signing his letter of intent with the University of Tulsa this past weekend, the nation's top junior college quarterback, Jacob Bower, flew back to Bakersfield, California, packed up a U-Haul and hit the road toward Tulsa. He also took time to tell InsideTulsaSports.com about why he chose TU and what he brings to the Hurricane program.

At about 9:30 pm CST on Sunday evening, Bower and his wife were well into their road trip that he estimated would be about 28 hours of driving. Things had happened fast, but he was already focused on his life's next chapter.

"School is starting, so I've got to get there as soon as possible," he explained.

The 6-foot-4 and 240-pound gunslinger threw for 3,144 yards and 35 touchdowns at Bakersfield College last year, drawing offers from the likes of Boise State, Kansas State, Hawaii, Colorado State and several others. But it was his relationship with Tulsa Co-Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn that made the biggest difference in his college decision.

"I have a great relationship with Coach Malzahn," Bower explained. "I feel like he's the best offensive mind in the nation right now. The best receivers in the nation, I feel, are at Tulsa. Who wouldn't want to play in a system like theirs, where they throw for 5,000 yards?"

Another deciding factor was the quarterback situation. Tulsa's all-time leading passer, Paul Smith, has exhausted his eligibility. Looking to compete for the starting position in the spring are senior-to-be David Johnson and sophomore-to-be Clark Harrell. Bower is looking forward to joining that competition.

"I like what I saw. I like the situation," he said. "I'll be able to come in and compete for the starting job. It's wide open."

While it was Bower's first trip to Oklahoma, the city of Tulsa also helped him make his decision.

"I really like Tulsa - the university and the town. Tulsa is great academically. My wife and I just really liked the town."

It was Bower's first time to meet the entire TU coaching staff, and he spent time visiting with each one individually. Many of Tulsa's players were back home enjoying the last of their break, but Bower had already done his research on his future teammates.

"I've got a lot of friends that play different places, and they all have really good things to say about the Tulsa players, that they are class act kids and really good people. It sounds like they are a really good group of guys to be around, on and off the field."

Bower has had a long journey so far in his college career. It all started when he was an honor roll student at Mountain View High School in Meridian, Idaho. He was a four-year letterwinner and a two-time first-team all-conference selection, earning first-team All-State honors as a senior. He was also recognized as a SuperPrep and Prep Star All-American as a senior, as well as a Gatorade All-American.

Rivals.com rated Bower as one of the top 25 pro-style quarterbacks as a high school senior in 2004. And as good as he was on the football field, he was equally impressive on the basketball court, earning Idaho Player of the Year as a senior.

Bower was recruited by Oregon State, California, Arizona State, USC, Purdue, Wisconsin, Washington State, Texas Tech, Boise State and Utah in football, before signing with BYU. He was also recruited for basketball by Texas Tech, North Carolina, Kansas, Wake Forest, Purdue, Utah and Washington State.

A member of the LDS Church, he went on a church mission to Wisconsin from 2004 to 2006, before redshirting at BYU for the 2006 season. Once he returned to BYU, things were much different from when he first signed, including a coaching change, which led him to transfer to Bakersfield.

Bower is now the age of most college seniors, but will only be a sophomore on next season's TU roster. That maturity, combined with his experience leading Bakersfield to a 12-1 season and championship game appearance, should serve him well in his attempt to earn the QB spot at Tulsa.

"I definitely feel like I bring a lot to the table with that," he stated. "I'm married, I'm 22 years old, and I've played a full year of college football already. Junior college obviously isn't D-1, but we played a lot of teams where all of their guys are D-1 guys."

"We beat El Camino, and they've got guys going to LSU, Florida, you name it. So, I feel like the games that I played this year are really going to help me. I feel like I'm battle-tested and that I've made all the throws and reads, and I'm ready to do it at the next level."

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