âWe have a guy who has proven he can go 150 yards against elite defenses and a few receivers who have proven they can open up the whey they need,â said Preston Dial, an Alabama tight end from 2007 to 2011, Saban’s first four seasons there. âCoach Saban always has a few plays in there to highlight the tight end if we need him, but he plays with the pieces you have, and we have guys who can open up. “
But Smart, a protÃ©gÃ© of Saban who had already emerged as a vocal champion of tight ends – “We want as much as we can and we want to give them the ball,” he said in 2020 – and offensive coordinator Todd Monken has seen their offensive options shrink as Georgia’s injuries increase.
Bowers has become an illustrious, albeit inexperienced, fix.
Georgia had aggressively pursued Bowers when he was a prospect in Napa, Calif., Where he was a tight end, fullback, wide receiver, linebacker and kicker. In his sophomore year in high school, when he was only an inch from the 6-foot-4 that he is now, his 40-inch vertical jump and 40-meter run time in 4.55 seconds made it turn heads. In addition to Georgia, he said, he had presented offers from the state of Louisiana, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon and Texas A&M, among others.
He announced his engagement in August 2020. In 2021, Georgia said in their preseason media guide that they “should strive for playing time as a freshman.” Then the injuries made him a star of the whole offense.
âWe knew he had the ability to run after he caught – we saw him on tape, they used him in the backfield when he got out of high school – but he has a little more reach than we thought. and he continued to develop as a road runner, âMonken said ahead of the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla., where Georgia beat Michigan, 34-11, to advance to the game for the title.
Bowers left the semi-final game in the first half with shoulder problems. Smart said it wouldn’t be a limitation on Monday night. Before his release, however, Bowers scored a touchdown.
âHe’s going to play the Z, the Y, the X, the movement guy, the bottom guy,â said Mike Macdonald, Michigan’s defensive coordinator. “They’ll give it to him on backhands, screens.”