"It’s got everything you can ever want as a quarterback and as a player and as a student and as one of the guys on the team.”
DeKALB – Northern Illinois offensive coordinator Eric Eidsness is on the same page as head coach Thomas Hammock that decision-making is a crucial factor in improving the quarterback position for the Huskies.
An additional factor that could make harder to decide who will take the shotgun snaps is former California Golden Bears quarterback Ross Bowers announced his intention to transfer to NIU. Bowers has not yet applied to school at NIU, but has begun the process to get paperwork. He made the choice after a visit where he saw two practices.
“It was an easy decision. On my last day of the visit, I decided there’s not much better places in the country for a quarterback like myself to go,” Bowers said. “It’s got everything you can ever want as a quarterback and as a player and as a student and as one of the guys on the team.”
Bowers has Midwest and Mid-American Conference roots. He was born in Illinois and grew up in the Sylvania/Toledo, Ohio, area. His parents both coached at Eastern Illinois. Bowers’ father, John, coached football at Kent State, Eastern Michigan, Eastern Illinois and Illinois State as well at Bowling Green and Ohio State alongside Urban Meyer (among other stops). His athletically inclined parents met at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Bowers’ mother, Joanne, coached with Michigan Gymnastics, Kent State and now is the head coach for San Jose State after serving as coach at the University of Washington for 10 seasons. Bowers spent his high school years in Bothell, Washington, a place he is thankful to for molding him and for the people there having his back.
Bowers started California’s opener against North Carolina a season ago, but did not play in the second half of the game and the Golden Bears went to a more mobile quarterback in Chase Garbers to run their offense. A thumb injury on his throwing hand suffered in fall camp hampered him well into the season. He stated it was diagnosed as a broken thumb about Week 7 or 8, which put him out of action the rest of the campaign.
Bowers threw for 3,039 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and completed 61percent of his passes as a redshirt sophomore in 2017.
With two years of eligibility remaining, Bowers saw the writing on the wall with a California team that was geared to run its offense with a mobile quarterback in mind and wanted to go somewhere he could use his skills for two seasons. He cited Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers as two guys to emulate who distribute the ball effectively from the pocket.
“I’m more of a pro-style quarterback. I like to win from within the pocket,” Bowers said. “[I] can still extend plays and do things that I need to do and make a play if I need to with my legs, but I like to really try to stay within the pocket and try to use all five offensive linemen to my advantage and get the ball to our playmakers in space.”
NIU coaches are not allowed to discuss graduate transfers, but Bowers noted he felt he has developed a good set of expectations set forth by the staff through conversations he has had over the past two months.
“It was very intriguing, the track record of each coach and also just the team in general, winning is tradition at NIU,” Bowers said. “It’d be a hard place not to go visit, and then when I actually got there, I fell in love with it.”
The incoming signal-caller, who will graduate with a degree in American studies from California, Berkley, said he may pursue studies in sports management at NIU.
“I’ve never imagined my life without football,” Bowers said. “Whoever tells me to stop playing and that’s my last day and all that stuff, then I’ll probably just go be a coach. Football is my thing.”
Bowers expects to join the Huskies in June.
Marcus Childers has taken first team quarterback repetitions thus far in spring practice, with Anthony Thompson, Rodney Hall, Jiya Wright and Drake Davis also taking snaps.
Childers connected with tight end Mitchell Brinkman for a touchdown in practice Monday, while Jiya Wright and Anthony Thompson combined for two interceptions.
Eidsness is pleased with how the quarterbacks are adjusting to the installation of a new offense, sharing that the squad has put in more than 50 percent of its offense.
“It’s gotten better, especially from practice one to where it is now,” Eidsness said. “Some guys are stepping up and making better. Some guys aren’t. That’s going to start to dictate reps. In some of those situations, you want that first third of the spring to give them all an opportunity to do that and as you get going in the spring, some of that stuff is going to be adjusted based on performance.”
Joining Bowers in announcing his intent to join NIU was running back Erin Collins on Saturday. Collins was on the team at North Carolina State in 2017, but was one of five players suspended for breaking team rules, but not one of the three players kicked off the team after the incident. He later transferred to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, where he played last season.
According to the Raleigh News & Observer, “He was one of five players who was disciplined by coach Dave Doeren last August for his role in an on-campus party on July 21 that ended with two female N.C. State students reporting to campus police that they had been allegedly raped and a third female student alleged she was a victim of sexual battery.
“The Wake County District Attorney’s Office decided not to pursue criminal charges against any of the five players after a review of the allegations in September.”