Coming off a three-game losing streak in September, the Kentucky football program was in desperate need for a change of scenery on offense. Starting quarterback Terry Wilson was out for the year with a torn patellar tendon, backup quarterback Sawyer Smith was battling numerous injuries and was visibly uncomfortable every time he stepped on the field, and third-string QB Nik Scalzo tore his ACL during fall camp.
A change was necessary, but the options were limited, to say the least.
Coming out of a bye week, whispers were growing louder that star wide receiver Lynn Bowden would be taking over at quarterback, with that news becoming official in the hours leading up to Kentucky’s matchup with the Arkansas Razorbacks on Oct. 12.
Since that moment, Kentucky has managed a 5-2 record with Bowden in the backfield, with the junior playmaker managing a whopping 1,136 rush yards, 14 total touchdowns, an SEC-leading 153 all-purpose yards per game, and 8.2 yards per carry (2nd nationally). In his (likely) final game at Kroger Field against Louisville on Saturday, Bowden rushed for 284 yards – the most by a quarterback in SEC history – and four touchdowns – tied for the most in Kentucky history.
This afternoon, Bowden joined College Sports on SiriusXM to discuss his transition to quarterback and how he has been able to put the team on his back ever since.
“The process, you know, it was very hard for us,” Bowden said told SiriusXM. “We lost our starting quarterback the second game of the season, and then Sawyer [Smith] stepped up. He got banged up throughout the next couple games, we lost three straight. I kind of threw my name in there and told coach, “I could [play quarterback] if you need me to.” In the South Carolina game, at the end of the game, we drove it down the field with me at quarterback pretty fast, and ever since then, they’ve kind of put the team on my back.
Bowden said that not only has he developed as a player in that time, he has also become a better leader.
“I’ve just been grateful for it. I just never looked back,” he said. “I developed as a leader on the team, just an outspoken leader. I had to level up my game [on and off the field], and I feel I did that this year.”
He walked us through his transition from WR, and his development as a leader ? pic.twitter.com/J46iHx4GWW
— College Sports on SiriusXM (@SXMCollege) December 3, 2019
After the Louisville game on Saturday, Kentucky associate head coach Vince Marrow looked back to the first moment Bowden approached him about playing quarterback on the road against South Carolina and the historic run he has been on since that conversation.
At first, it went “in one ear and out the other,” but after seeing the final 5-play, 84-yard drive Bowden put forth leading the offense, Marrow knew it was something Kentucky needed to at least consider moving forward.
“I’m kind of like Lynn’s go-to [connection] with [Mark] Stoops and Eddie [Gran],” Marrow said. “So Lynn, I want to say it was the South Carolina game, he kept coming to me and saying, “Coach, put me at quarterback. Put me at quarterback.” A little bit of it is you hear him, and you let it go in one ear and out the other. But as we were struggling, and the glimpse you did see of him in that South Carolina game when he did get in there, he went down the field just like that.”
Marrow then took to social media to tell the world that he thought Bowden was the best player in all of college football.
“I’m going on record to say [Lynn Bowden] is the best football player in the country,” Marrow wrote on Twitter. “Go Big Blue.”
I’m going on record to say @LynnBowden_1 is the best football player in the country. Go Big Blue.
— CoachMarrowUK (@vincemarrow) November 30, 2019
Not bad for a wide receiver.