Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
The Hoosier Huddle Countdown is, somehow, nearly halfway over as summer continues to bake the Heartland.We have only 54 days until our Hoosiers kick-off the 2016 season against Florida International. Today, we focus on a converted defensive lineman that could end up having a sizeable impact on Mark Hagen’s front four: Ja’MerezBowen.
-Weight: 310 pounds
-Hometown: Cleveland, OH (transfer from the University of Cincinnati)
-Position: Defensive Line
Ja’Merez Bowen starred at Cleveland’s Shaker Heights High School as a two-way lineman that posted 24 tackles in 2013. The 6’4” athlete proved to be much more than just a “big guy” as he also lettered in basketball. He was rated as the 51st offensive tackle prospect nationally and chose to begin his career in his home state at the University of Cincinnati. After his redshirt season as a Bearcat, Bowen opted to transfer to Indiana and he sat out the 2015 season due to the NCAA’s transfer rules. After two seasons on the sidelines, Bowen is ready to make an impact and the coaching staff opted to slide him from offense to defense. As a result, Bowen is a very interesting player to monitor and he will have a chance to make an immediate impact on a defense in need of talented big-bodies in the middle of the line.
During spring practice, Hoosier Huddle writer Alex Compton wrote a very good article on Bowen’s transition to the interior of the defensive line. The reasons for his move to the defensive side of the ball are obvious: the Hoosiers are very strong and deep at offensive line and there is a need for depth and impact players in the middle of the defensive line. For a player that has been itching to play while sitting out two seasons, it makes a ton of sense. IU’s new defensive line coach Mark Hagen told Alex Compton that Bowen was making progress.
“The first few practices, he was like a backyard football guy. The ball was snapped and he was looking for the ball and he was getting blocked. We finally got him, got his eyes corrected a little bit and he’s been a much better player the last couple practices. I think he’s a guy that, again, has a skill set where he can help us.”
New defensive coordinator Tom Allen agrees and likes what he has seen from Bowen thus far. “He’s a big ol’ body guy who can move. He shows flashes, and I said to coachHagen, ‘He looks like some guys we played against at some other places I’ve been’. He has that body type, and so I’m thrilled to have him on defense.”
Bowen is likely to begin the season behind upperclassmen Nate Hoff and Ralph Green but there will certainly be plenty of snaps available for the redshirt sophomore if he can continue to progress. He’s likely to be a bit raw during his first game action but the physical tools and size are there. After two long years of waiting, I imagine Ja’MerezBowen is more than ready to make his mark.
Share your thoughts or expectations for Ja’Merez Bowen and the rest of the IU defensive line in our comments section (or on the message boards) and be sure to come back to Hoosier Huddle each day during our countdown!