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In the Year of the Quarterback, with box scores exploding across America and capable football throwers manufacturing huge numbers on a weekly basis, a tight end—yes, a tight end—might be the best player in college football.
To the uninformed, this might seem like a ridiculous take. Although at this point, following another massive performance on Saturday on the road in critical moments, it’s no longer a stretch to throw Brock Bowers’ name into the conversation.
It’s also time we start another conversation. Let’s at least start to embrace the possibility of a tight end—yes, a tight end—winning the Heisman.
In a game Georgia never quite felt in control of, Bowers took over against Auburn. After falling behind 10-0, the Bulldogs crept back slowly. It was yet another sluggish start for the back-to-back national champions, although the program found life through a predictable channel.
Bowers was everywhere, especially in the second half. Given his reputation, it was hard to fathom how he was getting as open as he was. Then again, we’ve spent two-plus years asking the same question.
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With less than three minutes remaining, Bowers hauled in a 40-yard touchdown that showcased his full range of talents. He showcased the kind of speed normally not reserved for 240-pound humans, all while casually brushing aside hopeful tacklers. This moment gave Georgia a 27-20 lead, which proved to be the final score.
In total, Bowers caught eight balls for 157 yards and one score. A week earlier, Bowers caught nine passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns in a win over UAB.
For the year, Bowers has 453 receiving yards and four total touchdowns. It’s worth noting that Bowers had only one catch for three yards in a blowout win over Ball State. His services weren’t needed that night.
Moving forward, however, Bowers will likely be an even larger fixture of the nation’s No. 1 team than he’s already been.
To date, Georgia simply hasn’t looked like the team we saw a year ago. Given the losses this roster has endured over the past two offseasons, perhaps some of that is to be expected.
Quarterback Carson Beck has produced some good plays, and the defense has played well. But the team has lacked explosiveness overall.
Enter Bowers, who, despite playing a position we don’t normally associate with big plays, can produce in just about any situation.
In a little over two seasons, Bowers is already one of the more decorated tight ends in college football history. He’s been a key piece in two national championship runs. He’s also scored 28 touchdowns.
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Along the way, his reputation has exploded. In NFL scouting circles, Bowers is regarded as one of the most intriguing prospects the position has ever seen.
If he stays healthy, he is likely to produce a potentially historic season for a team currently favored to win the national championship. This, of course, transitions naturally into what this current trajectory could translate into.
Two tight ends have won the Heisman in the award’s history. Yale’s Larry Kelley did so in 1936. Leon Hart did the same for Notre Dame in 1949. It has been done, although it’s been more than 70 years.
To say football has changed since then would be understatement. Although the way we view and vote on the Heisman has changed even more.
Quarterbacks have taken over, and the movement has been in the making for some time. Since 2000, only four non-QBs have won the award. To do so, they delivered massive statistical seasons for high-profile programs.
As of Saturday night, Bowers was 80/1 to win the Heisman on DraftKings. Only four position players—Michigan running back Blake Corum, Ohio State running back TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. and Washington wideout Rome Odunze—had smaller odds.
The fact that a tight end even is even hovering around consideration speaks to Bowers’ magnificence. This is not a conversation we’ve had regularly, and it likely won’t be had for some time. But it needs to be had right now.
Although the Heisman isn’t won in September, the conversation surrounding Bowers should be sincere.
The climb to realize this possibility will not be easy. USC’s Caleb Williams and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. are likely to put up video game numbers each and every week.
They have been spectacular, and they are not the only quarterbacks that will garner serious consideration. This is a loaded year for the position, and it’s likely that a quarterback will once again win the award.
It’s also possible that the Pac-12 will cannibalize itself. Rarely does a college football season follow the script. As dominoes continue to fall, Bowers could slowly work his way into consideration.
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In reality, however, he should already be there. This isn’t simply an elite tight end. This is one of the most unique offensive players college football has seen in recent memory.
This is a multiple-time national champion saving his best for what is likely to be his final collegiate season. On Saturday, he delivered a Heisman moment while playing a position that doesn’t normally allow those things to transpire.
Nothing about this is normal, which is why his campaign should begin now if it hasn’t already.
If we’re truly interested in awarding the Heisman to the best overall player in the sport, Bowers must be considered. Because each Saturday it’s looking more and more like that’s the case.