The Martinsburg, W.Va. native, who led the Bulldogs to a Class AAA state title game as a quarterback, has been permanently switched to wide receiver at West Virginia, where he will help mix with Darius Reynaud, Tito Gonzales and others in an attempt to bolster one of the nation’s lesser-used passing games. Sowers did not throw during volunteer summer workouts and is expected to spend every snap this fall at wideout of on special teams, a changeup from past seasons when he would take some repetitions at quarterback.
“It was tough adjusting,” Sowers said. “As a quarterback, you might take a three-step drop and throw the ball and that’s the play right there. As a receiver you are out there blocking and running 20 yards each play. It is totally different, but I have adjusted. I have trimmed weight to about 205. I think we are all there now. It [has been] a preparation week, just let our legs rest and get after it in camp.”
The sophomore, who threw incomplete on his only pass attempt last season and caught one pass for six yards, is listed in front of Carmen Connolly at the H slot heading into fall drills, which start Aug. 4. The duo will be a part of one of the largest offensive questions entering the 2007 season: Can WVU throw consistently if forced to do so? It’s been explored – and somewhat answered – by both the coaching staff and the offense considering West Virginia did throw effectively in some of the few occasions when it needed to, a la the 18-point comeback versus Georgia Tech.
WVU tallied 2,059 yards passing last season, completing 149 of 233 passes. The Mountaineers averaged 158.4 yards passing per game, compared to its 303 yards via the rush. Of 273 first downs, 91 came by pass and 168 by run (and 14 by penalty). The numbers aren’t extraordinary, and so Sowers hopes his adjustment there, combined with the added depth, will create more success this year.
“A reflection of the program is its getting better and better each year,” Sowers said. “You can insert someone in there if someone goes down and you don’t lose anything. That’s what you want in a program. It has to do with both (physical and mental toughness). No matter what position you play, it is going to wear and tear on you. It’s part of being a football player. A lot of guys take pride in that.”
Sowers has had his share of injuries, including two shoulder separations, one in high school during the playoffs on his left (throwing) side. And he has been moved from a high-profile, though non-starting, position to one where the activity for the majority of game day can be opening holes for tailback Steve Slaton and quarterback Pat White, or covering during kickoffs.
“It’s different in college,” Sowers said. “You go from being one of the best, if not the best, in high school to being another guy here. Most of the guys here were the best at their high schools. It takes some getting used to. But I feel much better as far as being comfortable.”
Sowers practiced at receiver throughout spring as well, a first in the nearly two years he has been a part of the Mountaineer program. That should give him an added edge.
“He’s just too good of an athlete to have on the sidelines,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He is one of our most versatile players.”