by Christian Summers
Hard work and determination are traits senior Jon Bowling would like to be remembered for after his playing days at Nebraska end.
In 1997, Bowling was an all-state tight end/defensive end for Lincoln Southeast High School and one of the most highly recruited players in that year?s recruiting class, but injuries have limited the Lincoln native.
Five years have past since Bowling was a freshman at NU, and yet sometimes he feels like he just arrived.
?I can still remember the first day I went to camp my freshman year,? Bowling said. ?You get so involved during your time here that it goes by so fast.?
One thing Bowling will take from his time at Nebraska is friendships, including one made before his college career started with fellow senior tight end Aaron Golliday.
?Jon?s a great guy,? Golliday said. ?Jon and I have been friends since high school. We played on numerous teams together throughout our careers. And he has been my roommate at times.?
Early on in Bowling?s career, Husker fans were able to see what this former Gatorade Nebraska Player of the Year could do.
After redshirting his first year due to a separated shoulder suffered in fall camp, Bowling contributed early in his second season. Against Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game in 1999 as a redshirt freshman, Bowling filled in for injured All-Big 12 tight end Tracey Wistrom and recorded two big receptions that sustained Husker drives.
But back injuries the past two years have given Husker fans just a glimpse of what this talented athlete is capable of doing.
?I don?t sit around and think about what if,? Bowling said. ?Everything happens for a reason. It?s just the cards I have been dealt. So I?m just going to make the best out of my final season here at Nebraska.?
In his five years at Nebraska, Bowling has had a solid career. Appearing in 31 games, he has recorded 11 receptions for 213 yards and two touchdowns. His totals left him as the leading returning receiving among tight ends entering the 2002 season.
Receivers Coach Ron Brown feels that Bowling is a battler.
?He has had some injuries throughout his career and has battled through them, and I?m proud of him for that,? Brown said. ?He?s had some tough injuries. For example, the injury to his back. He wasn?t able to lift weights for his lower back for a couple of years, which made it hard for him especially since he?s a tight end. They need that for explosiveness.?
One of Bowling?s strengths is blocking. Brown feels that Bowling is one of the team?s better down-field and back-side blockers.
?Against Arizona State, we felt that it was important to not let defensive end Terrell Suggs have a career day,? Brown said. ?Jon came in and did a great job of blocking and containing him.?
It?s not just the coaches who believe in Bowling, but his teammates as well.
?Jon?s just found his niche in the tight end rotation,? Golliday said. ?When he first got here, he was a great pass receiver, and he has since become an excellent blocker.?
Following Bowling?s playing days, his plate will still be full. He is engaged to be married in July 2003 and is scheduled to graduate in December that same year with a degree in secondary education and social sciences. Bowling would like to take his knowledge of the game to the coaching ranks as well.
Bowling believes that college athletics has prepared him for life after football. Bowling said that the work ethic that has been instilled in him is going to help him the most.
?Working for what you want and then being able to accomplish it is something that people can?t take away from you,? Bowling said.
Bowling takes pride in the fact that he has kept battling back from all his setbacks.
?When it?s all said and done, everybody is going to remember the guys who scored the touchdowns,? Bowling said. ?I want the coaches and the players to remember me for the kind of character I have and the kind of person I am.?