Former Clemson All-American earns his degree, honors his late father’s wishes
During his speech to IPTAY and Clemson fans after the Tigers inked the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class in the country on Wedneday, head coach Dabo Swinney pointed out what signing day is really all about.
He looked up from the PAWs diner inside the Allen Reeves Football Complex in Clemson and pointed to former Clemson standout Da’Quan Bowers, who was watching from the balcony above. Swinney told the story of how Bowers was an All-American at Clemson, how he won the ACC Defensive Player of the Year Award, was the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski and the Ted Hendricks Award, and played in the NFL.
But Swinney also mentioned the most important honor of them all for Bowers, he came back to school and finished his degree.
“It just shows the importance of earning that degree,” Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons said after he received his degree on Thursday. “(Bowers) left nine years ago and had been in the league since. He has made lots of money and it still shows you that all of that is not as important as a degree.”
Bowers earned his degree in Sports Management.
“When I decided to leave Clemson in 2010, I made a promise to myself and to my mom that I would come back and get my degree no matter what happened in the NFL,” the Bamberg, South Carolina native said. “That was important to me. That was important to them. I am just glad to finally get it done. It has been a long time coming, nine years. What a blessing. It’s a great opportunity. I am just excited. I am truly excited.”
Getting his degree has now allowed Bowers an opportunity to go and be a football coach. He has spent the last two seasons on Dabo Swinney’s staff where he has worked as a volunteer coach while he finished up his degree. There is a chance he could end up finding his way on Jeff Scott’s staff down at South Florida.
Scott, of course, was named the Bulls’ new head coach last week.
“There has been some talking, so hopefully, we can get something done and I’ll be on his staff,” Bowers said.
Of course, earning his degree on Thursday went a long way in maybe making that happen.
“It is special. When I was thinking about retiring from football, Coach Swinney was one of the first people I called,” Bowers said. “It’s funny! We got off the phone and he called me back like two minutes later and said, ‘You ain’t got your degree. Get back to Clemson!’ I told him I was coming.
“I came last year, and I went through a whole semester of coaching. I was supposed to graduate last May, but he asked me to extend it to an extra semester. So, I decided to extend it to an extra year of coaching, and it has paid off for me. It has been nothing but a blessing. It is all in God’s timing.”
It was not easy going back to school. It took Bowers a little while for him to get back to being in class and walking around campus, especially since he was eight years removed from the classroom.
“The hardest part was being out of school for eight years and then trying to jump in with the rest of the kids and being on campus,” he said. “That was a little different. But after a semester, I got back in the groove of it and I was able to finish strong.”
In the last two seasons, Bowers has worked with Clemson’s the defensive ends, helping players like Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant become even better defensive ends, while helping players like Justin Foster, Xavier Thomas, Logan Rudolph and K.J. Henry this season.
“It has been amazing, working with those guys last year and even with these guys here this year,” Bowers said. “Even with guys like K’Von (Wallace), Isaiah and guys like that. I am just so proud to be around them and proud to cherish this moment with them as well. It has been fun.”
Of course, Bowers knows this day may have never happened had it not been for his late father, Dennis Bowers, who played a major role in his life as a young man and was his best friend. Dennis died suddenly in August of 2010, just before the start of Bowers’ last season at Clemson. Bowers dedicated the season to his dad and went on to become an All-American and the first multi-award winner for one season in Clemson history.
“I know he is elated. This is one of the things we talked about before he passed away,” Bowers said. “I was fortunate enough to make it to the next level and he didn’t see it, but I know he saw this.”
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