Just like that, the college football regular season is just about over. This means the College Football Playoff mayhem is upon us, and more importantly the NFL Draft buzz is in full swing. With the Senior Bowl and Shrine Game rosters taking form, we have plenty to discuss in the coming months without football. What about those unheralded players we won’t have an extra chance to see later this winter? Among those players is Faulkner’s Ja’Quez Bowser.
Bowser is a Jacksonville native, and as he’ll describe himself to you, a “filmaholic”. As a 5’8” corner, Bowser won’t meet the height requirements of many NFL teams. However, he has the demeanor and work ethic teams covet. After talking with him, it’s hard not to root for a guy with his attitude.
This is the first installment of my ‘Prospect Spotlight’ series for this upcoming NFL Draft where I’ll interview players aching for more exposure and ultimately a chance at the next level. Below is my interview with Ja’Quez Bowser. Enjoy! While you’re at it, give him a follow on Twitter @JaQuez_Bowser.
Q: Prior to the season you told me you were aiming to lead the nation in interceptions. Have you always been one to set high expectations for yourself?
A: Yes sir, I have always set high expectations for myself. When I was young child, teachers would always tell me to shoot for the stars, so if you fall you will land on the clouds. I expect the best out of myself and want to be the best that I can be!
Q: Hailing from Jacksonville, home to many other dynamic football athletes, were you overlooked by major programs? If so, does that force you to play with a chip on your shoulder?
A: There is a lot of talent in Jacksonville, FL, especially Florida as a whole. I felt like I was overlooked, but what athlete wouldn’t that didn’t have any college scholarships coming out of high school? It forced me to play with a chip on my shoulder when I was offered a preferred walk-on opportunity at Alabama State University. If anyone knows anything about walking on to play sports in college, it can be tough at times. It go so bad that I would sleep in the football complex at night. While my teammates went back to their dorms after practice, I would sleep in the meeting room and watch film until my eyes hurt.
Q: Originally committed to Alabama State, you then transferred to Faulkner. What was the biggest factor that led you to transfer?
A: The biggest factor that led to me transferring from ASU to Faulkner was an opportunity. I appreciate everything that Coach Barlow and Coach Jenkins did for me. These are two great coaches with unbelievable work ethics. I just wanted an opportunity to showcase my skills that I worked my whole life to acquire. Faulkner University gave me an opportunity and showed me nothing but love and respect.
Q: What would you say is the biggest difference between the two programs?
A: The biggest different between the two programs was the size of the fan base. Obviously Alabama State, being an FCS program, they are going to have more fans. Other than the fan base they were equal. When I transferred to Faulkner I was surprised to see how much talent they had on their football team. Our quarterback was a transfer from Texas Tech. We have a defensive linemen that transferred from Florida State. The list goes on. Faulkner has just as much talent as some FCS and FBS programs.
Q: Listed at 5’8”, NFL teams will knock your height. What other facets of your game make up for the lack thereof?
A: Being 5’8” is not the best thing in the world, but what makes up for my height is my football IQ and work ethic. I pride myself off of film study and knowing what offensive coordinators want to call. I also pride myself off of my work ethic. Working those late hours on the field and in the gym to be the best defensive back I can be.
Q: What would your response be to a team asking you to play special teams?
A: When and where? I played mainly special teams for three years at Alabama State so I’m familiar with playing kickoff, gunner on punt, first line on kickoff return and hold up corner on punt return. I love special teams and pride myself on playing special teams.
Q: Plead your case to an NFL GM. Why should they draft you?
A: You should draft me because I will represent your organization in a positive manner. I do not drink, smoke, or party so you don’t have to worry about any off field problems. I love football so much that I will play in the NFL for free. I will make my teammates, coaches and the organization better because of my attitude and work ethic. Everyone that comes in contact with me leaves with a positive outlook on life and an improved work ethic to chase their dreams.
Q: What would you consider to be your biggest strengths/weaknesses as a player?
A: My biggest strengths as a player is my work ethic and willingness to get better. My biggest weaknesses is my height and playing time. Being 5’8”, I don’t fit certain team’s height requirements and I didn’t start until my senior year of college.
Q: Off season training events are coming up, and the 40 yard dash remains the most popular. What have you topped out at in the 40?
A: My fastest 40 yard dash was 4.5. With proper training and technique I will certainly run a 4.3-4.4.
Q: Is there an NFL player that you model your game after?
A: I want to be my own player with my own style and technique, so I don’t model myself off of any player because you have to create your own legacy. I do watch Richard Sherman because of his work ethic and film study. I also like to watch Antonio Brown even though he plays receiver. His work ethic and story is something I admire.
Q: Any pregame rituals?
A: Before games I like to go to the field and get a good stretch in and listen to motivational speakers on my phone. When I’m in the locker room I’ll watch a couple of highlights to get me pumped and ready to go!
Q: College basketball has just started up. Who wins it all this year?
A: Growing up in Florida, I was a huge Miami Hurricanes fan, so I’m rotting for the “Canes” to go all the way this year.