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NFL Draft 2020: Lynn Bowden Jr - the most interesting player at the 2020 NFL Draft?

"I'm going to compete against anybody, I don't care how big, how small, how good. Me, I feel like I'm the best at everything I do"

Bowden Jr in action against Louisville
Image: Bowden was recognised as the most versatile player in college football last season

Behold Kentucky's Lynn Bowden Jr. The man that led his team in rushing and receiving yards last season despite starting eight of 13 games at quarterback.

The electrifying, slaloming multi-purpose weapon twinkling in the eyes of head coaches looking for their own Randall Cobb, Taysom Hill, Deebo Samuel-type gadget player at this year's NFL Draft.

"I'm just a dawg," Bowden told Sky Sports in an exclusive interview when asked to describe himself to British fans who may not know too much about him.

"If they didn't see me play that's just one word to put out there - straight dawg. Alpha dawg, alpha male, however they want to put it. I'm that guy, I'm that 'it' factor.

"I'm going to come in there [the NFL] and change the game."

"There's a lot of guys that are kind of similar to me but I feel like I've got that extra edge and I'm gonna come in there and change the game for sure."
Kentucky's Bowden vows to 'change the game'

The 2019 stats are that of a born talisman, Bowden finishing his junior year 35 of 74 passing for 403 yards and three touchdowns, along with a team-high 1,468 rushing yards for 13 touchdowns and 30 catches for 348 yards and another score.

Bowden's comments, and his numbers, will be an interesting study for NFL scouts. 'Gadget' players, those that can do it all in a couple of positions, have become all-important both on offense and defense.

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Quarterback hadn't been the plan, at least not last season. On September 29 the Wildcats found themselves facing a shutout against South Carolina, starting quarterback Terry Wilson and third-string Nik Scalzo out to season-ending injuries and backup Sawyer Smith struggling with issues of his own.

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Step forward Bowden, who, after urging head coach Mark Stoops to send him out under center, backed up his request by leading a five-play, 84-yard touchdown drive for the Wildcats' only score.

"We were on a losing streak and were in the middle of losing a game, we were 24-0 in the fourth quarter so I went up to coach and was like 'come on coach, put me back there, how bad could it get?'," he recalled.

"It's three minutes left and he put me back there and in 30 seconds we scored a touchdown. I think that's what I really thrive off of, the pressure."

Bowden went on to inspire his team to six wins as starter, sacrificing over half a season of receiver reps designed to contribute to his scouting profile in the process.

Nonetheless, in doing so Bowden underlined both his natural leadership and the offensive weaponry that would deliver 284 rushing yards for four touchdowns in a 45-13 rout of the Louisville Cardinals.

"I think it helped me because it showed the pro teams I'm going to do whatever it takes to win and just show my versatility and that I can play in any position they want me to play in," said Bowden.

The Youngstown, Ohio native started out as a running back as a freshman at Liberty High School before taking on the quarterback job and finishing his sophomore year with 761 passing yards for 13 touchdowns and four interceptions, not to mention 1,782 rushing yards.

He later transferred to Warren G. Harding High School, cruising to 2,277 rushing yards, 1,366 passing yards and 57 total touchdowns as a senior. In the same year he added to his credentials as a fierce competitor by earning his place in the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star basketball game.

"I was a quarterback at the time so I was just doing what I needed to do," explained Bowden. "I was forced into playing quarterback at the time, because I was always a running back coming up and my team needed me to do more things so that's what I did.

"As I moved forward I fell in love with quarterback so it was something I really wanted to do but I knew going to the next level I was going to have to change it up.

"I'm going to compete against anybody, I don't care how big, how small, how good."

"Me, I feel like I'm the best at everything I do so when I was playing basketball I was out there putting in work every day and making sure I was always the best."
Bowden on his high school basketball experience

With his son Lynn Bowden III due at the time, the quarterback-turned-wideout committed to Kentucky in order to remain close to home having received offers from several universities, including Penn State and Wisconsin.

He was predominantly deployed as a return specialist in his freshman year, finishing with 17 catches for 210 yards and briefly lining up at quarterback as a means of experimenting with his rushing threat.

It was in his sophomore year where Bowden really came to the forefront as a wide receiver with a team-high 67 catches for 745 yards and five touchdowns, while also returning 27 kickoffs for 539 yards. His production as a pass-catcher would prove invaluable given his limited snaps as a receiver upon filling in at quarterback the following season.

He explained: "It was very important, I think that's what put me on the map to be in the position I am. It helped me a lot to expose what I really could do and for me moving to quarterback this year it helped me a whole lot."

Bowden ranked in the top five nationally for all-purpose yards after an exceptional junior year, becoming a first-team All-American and securing the Paul Hornung award, which recognises the nation's most versatile player in college football. The award had previously been won by the likes of Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey and Odell Beckham Jr.

"It was a great moment," added Bowden. "It was something I wanted to win when I got to college and just being able to say I won it was one of the greatest moments of my life."

Having decided to forgo his senior year and declare for the 2020 draft, Bowden bid farewell to Kentucky with a game-winning touchdown pass with 15 seconds left against Virginia Tech in the 2019 Belk Bowl. He was named game MVP having rushed for 233 yards and two touchdowns.

The 22-year-old has paid tribute to his set-up in Kentucky for helping him grow not only as a competitor, but as a person as well.

"Being patient can take you a long way, I came in a little impatient and I'm grateful," admitted Bowden. "There were a lot of lessons they taught me just to be patient. It got me to where I am now.

"I feel like every kid needs a coach that understands him and a coach that really understands their background. That's what coach Stoops knows, he understands me. He's very important."

Bowden was limited by a hamstring strain as he fulfilled a childhood dream by attending this year's Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in late February.

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This was followed up by the cancellation of Kentucky's Pro Day due to the coronavirus pandemic, although Bowden can rest somewhat assured knowing his elusiveness and between-tackle toughness is vouched for by the game film.

"It was something I've always dreamed of, just being at the combine, so when I got there it was like 'damn'," he said. "It was really weird like 'I'm there, this is my dream since I was young and I really got to live it out'.

"They put you through a lot of things to test your mental strength and I think I did good for the most part. I ain't complaining about nothing, I was just happy to be there.

"They kept asking me about the Virginia Tech incident (Bowden was involved in a pre-game altercation ahead of the Belk Bowl). I gave them the straight-forward answer."

Lynn Bowden Jr. celebrates with his son and coach Stoops after the 2019 Belk Bowl against Virginia Tech
Image: Bowden celebrates with his son and coach Stoops after the 2019 Belk Bowl

While at the combine Bowden raised money for every one of his 13 reps in the bench press in aid of the organisation Fathers Incorporated, his own son serving as unparalleled inspiration on his journey to the NFL.

"They (Fathers Incorporated) brought me the idea and I was like 'what better idea than this?'. I'm doing everything for my son so it was just for the fathers out there that are trying to be in the life of their kids.

"He's the biggest motivating factor for me because I'm doing everything for him."

All eyes are now very much on April's draft for Bowden, who is counting down the days until the next step in his career begins. In fact, he had been on a call to an unnamed NFL side immediately before speaking exclusively to Sky Sports.

Bowden Jr. celebrates after throwing the game-winning touchdown pass the Belk Bowl
Image: Bowden is one of the potential steals of the draft

"It was great," he said. "I think it's going the way I expected it to. I would have liked to have seen them face to face because I like to read guys face to face but this is the life and the way it is right now so I've just got to go with it really.

"I'm looking forward to it. This has been my lifelong dream. It feels like it's coming fast but not fast enough. I really just want to get in there and prove my point.

"I just hope I go to a team that know how to really use me and put me in the best position to compete with guys."

On the thought of making his NFL debut, Bowden admitted: "I'm going to probably cry. It's my lifelong dream and it's finally coming true so it's going to be am emotional thing for me."

Watch all three days of the 2020 NFL Draft unfold on Sky Sports, April 23-25 - starting with build-up to day one at 6pm on Thursday, April 23 with the first picks expected to be made at 1am. Follow us @SkySportsNFL and at

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