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Sowers catches on fast at WVU

Ex-Martinsburg QB gets hang of playing WR

Ex-Martinsburg QB gets hang of playing WR

August 26, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Throwing a football was one of the most complicated things Nate Sowers ever tried to do.

Sowers devoted countless hours studying plays, watching film, honing his timing and sharpening his focus to become one of the best quarterbacks ever to come out of Martinsburg High School. In fact, he was so good, he won the Kennedy Award, which signifies the best high school football player in West Virginia.

Now, three years later, everything has changed. Sowers is now catching the football ... and it might be one of the simplest things he's ever done.

"It's not really an adjustment to get used to catching the ball," Sowers said. "It's the same as what we used to do when we used to play in the back yard. I'm more comfortable there."


Sowers' football career is going through an evolution. As a member of the West Virginia University football team, it is now better to receive than to give.

"To be honest, I was worried about being a quarterback," Sowers said. "I feel like this is probably the best move. Now, it gets me out on the field quicker."

You could say Sowers found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because of a talent glut at quarterback, the Mountaineers have moved the sophomore out from behind center and into the slot as a receiver.

WVU's coaching staff has recognized Sowers as one of the program's more gifted players.

The move is nothing more than finding a spot on the field to use those talents.

WVU coach Rich Rodriguez was reluctant to move Sowers out of the quarterback corps last season. Sowers was the rope in a tug-of-war. The Mountaineers defensive coaches wanted to bring him over to play defensive back. The offensive coaches were looking for ways to get him on the field while leaving the door open as a quarterback.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Sowers proved to the WVU coaches he had to play somewhere. It started when he rushed for a touchdown against Eastern Washington. It grew when Sowers caught a pass against Syracuse.

And it screamed with his two highlight-reel special-teams hits he made during the Gator Bowl.

There was more to Sowers' talent than just throwing spirals. And with Patrick White firmly entrenched as WVU's quarterback, it was time to look for other options.

"I was kind of waiting to hear from the coaches," Sowers said. "We have a young receiving corps besides Darius (Reynaud). With me being a quarterback, I have a little experience with the receivers, I know the offense and I know their routes. That should help me."

Sowers came out of spring practice listed as WVU's No. 1 slot receiver on the depth charts in the Mountaineers' wide-open, spread-style offense which uses four wideouts.

And while being a quarterback was a dream that Sowers followed for the longest time, there has been something liberating for him about accepting the role as receiver.

"It's a lot tougher," Sowers said. "I have been doing a lot more running now than when I was at quarterback. I enjoy it. I get to just go out there and be an athlete."

Quarterbacks, like baseball pitchers, are among the most protected athletes in sports. Both are considered the most important player on the field if teams are going to win. Because of that, quarterbacks are protected from taking excess contact in practices - and sometimes in games - to keep them healthy.

The aspect of protection seemingly began to wear on Sowers.

"I get to do more in plays and be hit. I get to hit people, too," Sowers said. "I played defense in high school and sometimes it was great when I had a bad day to be able to get out there and let it all out."

Sowers' move to receiver is calculated on WVU's part. Because of Sowers' quarterbacking background, he is able to see plays and use reads to see what defenses are doing. It's a talent which could help White and may open up the Mountaineers' offense even more.

"I know the offense and this is more exciting," Sowers said. "I feel a lot more comfortable because I do know the system and I'm used to everyone now. In the beginning, you want to be with the guys you came in with as freshmen. Now, I'm more comfortable with everyone. I used to sit there and watch films wondering why receivers did what they did on certain plays. Now, I'm starting to know why."

In the long run, Sowers knows he's doing the right thing. Leaving the ranks of quarterback and everything he trained for for much of his formative years is giving him piece of mind, immediate playing time and a true identity while helping the WVU football team.

"Being a quarterback is all mental," Sowers said. "It's moving receivers around to find openings. It's all a mind game against the defense. Now, I get to go and play and get out on the field. No matter what position I play, I'm a football player first."

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