My guess is that anyone who watched Lynn Bowden play high school football in Youngstown, Ohio, was the least bit surprised by what he did to lead Kentucky to a 24-20 win over Arkansas last week.
He was Kentucky’s emergency starter at quarterback and all he did was run 24 times for 196 yards and two scores and complete 7 of 11 passes for 78 yards and another score. It was the most rushing yardage by any UK player against an SEC opponent since running back Rafael Little ran for 198 yards in 2005 and second most rushing yards by a quarterback in school history behind the 208 yards Mike Fanuzzi had in 1974 – and was exactly the kind of thing he did in high school when he was a four-star recruit.
Bowden primarily plays receiver and came into the Arkansas game with 114 catches for 1,303 yards and six touchdowns in his three years at UK.
“I was not surprised because that is what he does,” Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said. “Everything is just natural for him.”
It is, but don’t think he didn’t work a lot the previous two weeks when UK coaches were convinced Sawyer Smith, who took over at quarterback when starter Terry Wilson went down with an injury in Week 2, would not physically be able to play.
“The last two weeks when we talked to Lynn about playing quarterback he totally bought in,” UK quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw said. “He was early to every meeting, constantly watching film, taking notes. He was taking it serious and not just wanting to be a wildcat quarterback, but showing he wanted to play quarterback.”
He was a superb quarterback at Warren Harding High School in Youngstown, where he threw for 1,366 yards, ran for 2,277 yards and accounted for 57 touchdowns his senior season. He drew comparisons to former UK star Randall Cobb and was considered one of the most dynamic playmakers in the country by many. Yet just as home-state Tennessee paid little attention to Cobb, Ohio State never really made a serious effort to recruit Bowden – a top-60 player in his recruiting class. Never mind that he was Ohio’s sixth all-time leading rusher with 7,387 yards and 10th in rushing touchdowns with 91. Ohio State worried about his academics and off-field demeanor.
Vince Marrow, a Youngstown native, recruited Bowden for years. He called him “maybe the most talented dude” ever to come out of Youngstown, a town that has had a ton of great players, and thought UK would be the perfect place for him to succeed – and was right.
Arkansas coach Chad Morris called Bowden an “unbelievable football player.” He said the Razorbacks expected Bowden to be at quarterback – and they still couldn’t stop him. Arkansas linebacker De’Jon Harris said he was a “hell of a player” because he makes the “right plays at the right moment.”
SEC Network analyst Jordan Rogers, a former Vanderbilt and NFL quarterback, has no problems with Bowden staying at quarterback for UK even if Smith is physically ready to go at Georgia.
“He has shown he can do enough in the pass game to keep defenses honest and keep them balanced,” Rodgers said. “You want the ball in the hands of your best player and this way they can do that.”
Former UK running back Anthony White is not sure. He wonders now that SEC defenses have seen what Bowden can do if they won’t keep a linebacker in the middle of the field as a “spy” on Bowden and contain the lanes outside to cut him off there.
“It’s harder to gain yards when teams can see film and scheme against you,” White said. “You want the ball in Lynn’s hands as much as possible, but I am not sure he is the answer at quarterback. I do have faith in Eddie Gran that if he keeps Lynn back there, he could be effective. I think he can throw the ball if you need him to, but I prefer he use his legs and I just worry teams will game plan to contain him.”
Hinshaw said hopefully Smith gets back to where he can practice this week so he could be ready to play at Georgia on Saturday night. However, Bowden certainly indicated after the Arkansas win that he would be comfortable staying at quarterback, something teammates seemed to fully embrace, too.
If that happens, Hinshaw says there is more Bowden can still do because he’s smart and understands the offense just like Cobb did when he was at UK.
“It was so enjoyable to have him in the (quarterback) room and engaged and being a sponge and learning the position of quarterback,” Hinshaw said. “He put in the time and you could tell he was ready and now obviously there is a lot more we can do with him passing and some more running if that’s the way we go.”
Almost 100 golfers took part in the Birdies for Brownie Golf Tournament at Princeton Golf Club to help raise money for the family of Cullan Brown, a former state champion at Lyon County High School and University of Kentucky golfer who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his left leg a few months ago.
Brown, a sophomore, had to withdraw from UK and is now undergoing chemotherapy treatments that require a hospital stay of three to seven days. That kept him from attending the event where he played and practiced. His parents also were unable to attend but Cullan’s sister, Cathryn, was there along with his mom’s parents, brother, mother-in-law and brother-in-law to express the family’s appreciation.
“We wanted to be there in person to thank everyone in person, but that couldn’t happen,” Emily Brown, Cullan’s mother, said. “I think Cullan’s spirits were lifted by just simply knowing that there are so many people praying and supporting him. Cullan was really excited to hear all about it when Cathryn, my brother, niece and nephew got to the hospital.”
Emily Brown says the support Kentucky fans and friends have shown has been “both overwhelming and so humbling” for Cullan and everyone else in the family.
“This golf scramble took off from the very moment it was mentioned. The organizers kept texting and calling, telling me that people were reaching out to them, wanting to help in any way possible. It means more to me and my family than we will ever be able to say,” Emily Brown said.
“We have been totally overwhelmed by the support and outpouring of love for Cullan and our family. The BBN is far-reaching, and their response to this challenge, along with our family and friends, is far beyond any comprehension.
“We are so blessed to have such love and support shown to us, and the prayers for us have gotten us through some of the hardest times of our lives, and I know they will continue to sustain us in the days, weeks and months ahead.”