Singling out just one memorable play that Keith Bowers made during his senior season at Dwyer High in West Palm Beach, Fla., was nearly impossible for Panthers defensive coordinator Bobby Sifrit to do.
What did immediately pop into Sifrit’s head when thinking about Bowers’ final high school year was how the three-star prospect handled the aftermath of Dwyer’s controversial loss to Cleveland powerhouse Glenville in a nationally televised season opener.
“Keith stood up and gave a speech. That probably sticks out in my mind,” Sifrit said. “After the Glenville game, it was almost like a [Tim] Tebow-type speech. [He said] ‘We’re going to work harder than anybody and we’re not going to get beat again.’ That kind of sticks out in my mind. He’s just a leader. That’s the kind of kid he is. Maryland got a great player.”
Bowers, a 6-foot-1, 260-pound defensive tackle, committed to the Terps last month over offers from Illinois, Kansas and Northern Illinois. A three-year varsity player, Bowers immediately demonstrated to Sifrit that he was a “natural-born leader” that was “extremely aggressive.” He also earned a reputation around Dwyer as a weight-room warrior. “I think the biggest development [in three years] was he was in the weight room a lot, just getting bigger and stronger,” Sifrit said. “It wasn’t that he wasn’t aggressive before, but he was so tough and he just kept getting bigger and stronger, and that made him even more dominating.”
Playing on a defensive line that included Daevonte Barnett (Division I interest), Shubert Bastien (Middle Tennessee State), Curt Maggitt (Tennessee) and Nick O’Leary (Florida State), Bowers always managed to stand out thanks to his strength.
“He was probably the strongest out of all of them,” Sifrit said. “I think [he was] just overpowering at this level, the high school level. There was not one player that could block him one on one. He was always making plays. I think what distinguishes him is that he’s so much stronger.”
Bowers recorded 74 tackles and 15 sacks as a senior, earning first-team Palm Beach Post all-area honors for his efforts. The future Terp helped the Panthers to the Florida 4A state semifinals, where they dropped a heartbreaking 22-20 game to Tampa Armwood. Despite being so productive for one of the most high-profile programs in Florida, Bowers’ recruitment managed to stay under the radar.
“The only thing I could think of is you have these schools that get it in their mind that if a kid’s not 6-3 or 6-4, they won’t recruit them,” Sifrit said. “Keith is probably 6-1, 6-1½, I’m not exactly sure. That’s the one thing I can think of, because if they watched any film, they should have been recruiting him. And shame on them, because they missed out on a great kid.”
Bowers will be one of at least eight Dwyer seniors to sign a Division I letter of intent today. While Maryland probably won’t need to burn his redshirt as a freshman, Sifrit thinks he would be up to the task if the Terps needed him.
“We’ve had a lot of great players,” Sifrit said. “He would have been at the top of the list that could go to the next level and physically be able to handle himself with no problem. He would probably be the No. 1 guy.”