Bowers glad to be back at practice after whirlwind two weeks


by - Senior Writer -
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Da'Quan Bowers won the Nagurski Award in 2010

CLEMSON – No. 93 moved around the indoor track facility with ease Monday afternoon, taking playful jabs at his teammates, interacting with his coaches and generally acting like a young man with the world at his feet. Which he is.

Junior defensive end Da’Quan Bowers was back in his element on Monday as the Clemson Tigers held their first practice for the upcoming Meineke Car Care Bowl. The practice was held indoors because Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said he wanted the team focused on the practice instead of the cold.

Bowers, however, would have been happy outside or inside – he was just happy to back on the field after a whirlwind two weeks that saw him appear on nationally-televised college football award shows, win the Ted Hendricks Award [nation’s outstanding defensive end], ACC Defensive Player of the Year and the Nagurski Trophy [given annually to Div. 1-A’s most outstanding defensive player].

Bowers said he is just glad to get back into a routine.

“For one thing, it has been very tiring,” he said following Monday’s practice. “I haven’t had a lot of free time going from one from each award- it was an all-day event, from meeting with the kids to signing autographs for the fans and doing Q & A’s. It was just a blast. I really enjoyed all of it.”

And how does he feel about being named to so many award lists?

“First of all, just being a finalist for all those awards is outstanding for anybody,” he said. “Winning the ACC Defensive Player of the Year was the pinnacle of my career. That says something about your play when you can win player of the year in the conference as a defensive player. The Nagurski Award was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Winning that award and being announced as the best defensive player of all college football, that says something about you, your work ethic and your play.”

The Bamberg native said he has enough memories to last a lifetime.

“The best memory was just being with those guys- Jake Kirkpatrick, the center from TCU, Nick Fairley [Auburn] and Patrick Peterson [LSU]. Just being with those guys and just cutting jokes and messing with them was a blast. Taking pictures of Nick Fairley sleeping was probably my highlight.”

Fairley is the defensive tackle from Auburn who is generally regarded – along with Bowers – as one of the two best defensive linemen in the nation this season, and Bowers was asked to elaborate on taking pictures of the Auburn Tiger.

“We got up at 6 a.m., and of course we were all tired because we had stayed out late just messing around,” Bowers said. “We had to get up early to go to the hospital and do question and answers with the kids and Nick fell asleep and if you know me, you know I like to take pictures of people while they’re asleep. We were on our way to get our tuxedos and I was just leaning in, taking pictures of the different faces he was making while he was sleeping. I’ve got them all in my phone, so as soon as he does something to me, I’m going to upload them all to Facebook.”

Swinney was able to make a few of the trips with his star defensive player, and Bowers said he had fun hanging with his coach.

“It was definitely a good experience having him [Coach Swinney] with me,” Bowers said. “Having him with me was a great experience and if you know Coach Swinney, you know he’s going to make everything fun. He really did a good job out there. I got to spend a lot of time with him and Coach [ends coach Chris] Rumph. It was a real fun experience and I’m glad he was there to experience it with me.”

With his junior season – and possibly his last at Clemson – drawing to a close, Bowers was asked if he had anticipated how quickly the time would pass.

“This is probably the quickest season I’ve ever played,” he said. “It seems like just yesterday I was leaving my father’s funeral to head back up here and try to catch up on practice. It’s been about 14 or 15 weeks since then. It’s just flown by and I wouldn’t change anything. It’s been a blast.”

Bowers is generally regarded as a Top 10 – and even Top 5 – pick in the NFL draft if he declares early, but he made it clear Monday evening that he isn’t even close to making a decision.

“I tell people the same thing all the time that I haven’t made a decision,” he said. “I think they think I’m lying to them, but I really haven’t made a decision yet and I haven’t thought much about the NFL draft. I have one more game here at Clemson and I’m not going to sell my teammates short. I’m going to do everything in my power to give us a legitimate chance to win the game.

“And, I have a lot of things I can come back for. I have a couple of records I can break here at Clemson and some records in the nation I can break, like being the all-time sack leader. And I would like to give my teammates the chance to compete for the ACC Championship and the bowl game next season. Just being a senior and all of the senior accolades and being at Clemson is just a wonderful thing.”

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