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Gil Pound: Pound for Ode to Brock

Jan. 9—This week's column goes out to the man whose playing style could best be described by the sounds made by a prizefighter's fists meeting a punching bag.

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers declared for the NFL Draft last week following an amazing three-year career in Athens that culminated in him winning the Mackey Award, which is given to the country's best tight end, back-to-back years. He's the first player to have ever done that since the award was established in 2000.

For three seasons and over the course of nearly 200 touches, the Napa, California, native doled out punishment basically every time the ball was in his hands.

And he wasn't just a physical runner. He was fast, too. In watching his career highlights you'll notice multiple instances of defenders having a favorable angle towards tackling Bowers, only for him to beat them to the spot and continue racing to the end zone.

Those highlights hearken back to the greatest Georgia Bulldog of all time, Herschel Walker, as he would often do the same thing.

Speaking of Herschel, Bowers' face belongs on the UGA football Mount Rushmore alongside the running back. His achievements while playing the tight end position speak for themselves, and he also helped deliver two national championships during his tenure.

Bowers' 2,538 receiving yards, 175 receptions, and 26 receiving touchdowns place him in the top 5 in Georgia football history in each of those categories. He also led the team in receiving all three years while suiting up for the Bulldogs. That's despite the down year in 2023 when a high ankle sprain kept him off the field for four games and limited him in others. Even through that bit of adversity, he did post his highest per-game average when it came to receiving yards in '23. Had he played the full season and maintained his pace, he would have been right at 1,000.

Other than in raw production, the injury didn't matter. Media outlets and pundits still recognized him as the best in the game at his position. He received the aforementioned Mackey Award as well as unanimous All-American status because everyone knew no one did it better.

Here are a couple of Brock Bowers moments I'll never forget. There was the throwback screen against Alabama in Indianapolis a couple of years ago. Watching the play develop, I knew Stetson Bennett needed only to get the ball over the outstretched arms of a Bama defender. Bowers — with the help of an incredible Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint block — was going to take it the rest of the way. That put Georgia up 26-18 with three and a half minutes to go.

Jump ahead to this year. Bowers had been out with the high ankle sprain leading up to the biggest home game of the season. Ole Miss was coming to Athens for a top-10 battle, and everyone was wondering whether or not the tight end was going to be available. I was in Sanford Stadium that night. When Bowers' name was called as part of the starting lineup, the place erupted. I get chills just thinking about it.

The icing on the cake came later. The game was a blowout, and his final catch inside Sanford went for a touchdown.

Bowers was a joy to watch as a fan, and by all accounts was a joy to coach and have as a part of the program. He is a freakish athlete and competitor, both things that will serve him well at the next level. If my favorite pro team needed a tight end (mine doesn't, love you George Kittle), I would buy a Bowers jersey within minutes of his name being called at the draft this spring.