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Kentucky Football

Why Lynn Bowden is One of the Nation's Most Versatile Players

June 30, 2019

Lynn Bowden was one of Kentucky’s biggest recruits of the Mark Stoops Era. In a recent interview on KSR, Bowden mentioned Ohio State calling the day after he committed to Kentucky, which Bowden eventually lied about being sick to not meet with them. Stoops, Vince Marrow, and company knew exactly what type of player they were getting. With a load of power five offers and one of the top athletes of his class, he has been followed by an incredible amount of hype.

Bowden has gradually improved in his two seasons as a Wildcat, as the coaching staff has also improved on just how to utilize a player of his caliber. He is a guy that you will primarily see in the slot, but he can also make plays outside as a receiver as well. On top of that, you can get Bowden in the Wildcat formation where he can utilize all of his playmaking abilities, and on occasion, dial it back to his high school days of being a quarterback. Then, the absolute last place an opposing team wants to see Bowden is back deep for a punt or kickoff return.

An Increased Workload

Bowden is going to get more touches than he ever has in this upcoming season. As a Freshman, Bowden only had 29 touches from scrimmage, and that number increased to 76 as a Sophomore. But as we all know it, the Wildcats offense ran through Benny Snell, who had a total of 306 touches from scrimmage last season. In Bowden’s two seasons at Kentucky, Snell had 473 more touches from scrimmage.

That number will have to improve for Kentucky to repeat their success from last season, which will happen to fill Snell’s void left behind. If Bowden wants to get honored for his versatility, he will have to get more touches to put up numbers of last year’s Paul Hornung Award (nation’s most versatile player), Rondale Moore, the freshman out of Purdue. 

Technically speaking, Bowden is still more versatile as he can do more inside and out running routes, as well as running the wildcat formation and returning punts. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Bowden has fantastic strength that coincides perfectly with his speed. On his Instagram after the season, his story indicated he was adding weight (muscle) as he showed to be above 210. They bulk at the start of the offseason and then cut weight in the summer, regardless of Bowden’s added weight, his speed looked all the same as he blazed for a 42-yard score in Kentucky’s spring game.

With that said, Offensive Coordinator, Eddie Gran could benefit from watching how Jeff Brohm and Purdue utilized Moore. As a Freshman, Moore had 135 touches from scrimmage, which is 30 more than Bowden has had in his two seasons in blue. This all comes down to the offensive schemes, which should definitely benefit Bowden more this season with Snell gone.

I think you will see an increased workload from Bowden, and if he can get close to the number of touches from scrimmage Moore gets per game (10), it will be impressive to see what he can do against SEC defenses.

Numbers Don’t Lie / Consistency in the SEC

Bowden is tied sixth in terms of returning players with x amount of 40+ yard plays. Against FBS Power Five teams, Bowden is tied first in explosive plays 40+ yards with Rondale Moore, Alabama wideout Jerry Jeudy and Vanderbilt running back, Ke’Shawn Vaughn; elite company, to say the least. 

No one in college football is more dangerous back deep for punt return than Bowden. Only three players took two punts to the house last season, showing the degree of difficulty in that task. Those players were Greg Dortch from Wake Forest, Isaiah Wright from Temple, and Bowden. Dortch had 25 returns last season, Wright had 19, and Bowden only had five as he was not Kentucky’s starting punt returner. That means 40% of the time Bowden was back deep, he converted it into six points. 

In the best conference in college football, the SEC, Bowden is at the top of a lot of categories amongst returning players. He is in the top three of plays from scrimmage over 30, 40, and 50 yards. He also ranks 7th in yards and 6th in yard per game in returning SEC players. To show Bowden’s true value on the Wildcats team that went 10-3 last season and ended as a top ten football team in the nation; here are Bowden’s stats in wins vs losses from the 2018 season.

In Wins: 52 catches, 581 yards, 4 touchdowns

In Losses: 15 catches, 164 yards, 1 touchdown

Bowden proved to be the X-factor for the Wildcats all of last season. After all, his two punt returns came in two of the biggest wins of the season in clutch moments. Against Mizzou, the Wildcats could find little offense throughout the game, but Bowden’s punt return gave them hope and then he hauled in two catches for 29 yards on the 81-yard game-winning drive. In the Citrus Bowl against Penn State, Bowden scored the first touchdown of the game, setting the tone on a 58-yard punt return to take a 10-0 lead.

This season, Bowden will likely share the spotlight as the primary weapon alongside running back AJ Rose. Coach Gran and company will need to find unique ways to get Bowden the football. I think you could see more of an effort to get the wildcat formation with him right because he could do a lot in the read option scheme with Rose beside him. Snell’s 306 touches from scrimmage will have to be distributed amongst the new stars, Bowden and Rose.

Bowden will be relied upon as a closer, in many ways what Snell was, but to a different degree. With Terry Wilson and Rose, Kentucky has arguably the most explosive big three in the SEC, they will play fast and put on a show. Bowden ceiling is high, he will likely end the year First-Team All-SEC, and he might get more hardware to go along with it. If Kentucky gets back to double digit wins, it will be by a different formula than the duo of Josh Allen and Snell.

Bowden’s combination of speed and strength and his ability to do so many different things on the football field is what makes him special. On top of that, he is doing it all in the SEC. There is not many out there that can bring what Bowden can to the table, and in 2019, one of the most versatile players in the nation is a Kentucky Wildcat. 

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