Sunday afternoon, the Michigan football team landed a surprise commitment from Texas Tech graduate transfer Alan Bowman. Below, we break down four things that stand out to us about Bowman’s career with the Red Raiders and his potential fit at Michigan.
1. Bowman can sling it
It doesn’t take long researching Bowman or watching his games to come to this conclusion. At Grapevine High School in metropolitan Dallas, Bowman threw for 9,639 passing yards, 107 touchdowns and 23 interceptions in his final three seasons with the Mustangs. This was enough to capture the attention of Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, who also scouted, recruited and landed commitments from three-star prospects such as Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb — all of whom were drafted, even if the latter two eventually transferred.
With the Red Raiders, Bowman was a quick hit. Reportedly winning over the locker room with his likability as an early enrollee, Bowman was a second-stringer to begin his career, but started shortly after when McLane Carter went down with an ankle injury. Bowman immediately took over the job though, drawing praise for his long-range and in-traffic throws — despite unconventional mechanics — and even garnering some Heisman hype. He threw for 605 yards and five touchdowns against Houston in his second start, upset No. 15 Oklahoma State on the road with 397 yards the next week. Later on in the season, he completed 21 of 26 passes for 227 yards and two scores in one half, as he helped Texas Tech take a halftime lead over Oklahoma.
In his career, Bowman has thrown for 5,260 yards and 33 touchdowns in 19 games. Interceptions are an area to watch (he has 17), but he has been accurate, completing 67.0 percent of his 713 passes. Texas Tech is known for having ridiculous passing stats, but that doesn’t discount Bowman’s passing ability.
2. Injuries marred his career in Lubbock
In a forgettable game against West Virginia, his fourth career start, Bowman was sandwiched on a hit that ultimately fracture a rib and partially collapsed his lung. A player known for his toughness who played a second half of a high school playoff game with a fractured shoulder, Bowman returned to game action less than a month later. In that aforementioned first half against Oklahoma, Bowman took a hit on a scramble that re-collapsed his lung. This time, his season was over after appearing in eight games.
In the offseason, Texas Tech changed coaches, but Bowman re-took his starting job and was viewed as the future for the Red Raiders. But in just his third game of the 2019 season, he suffered a fractured collarbone that ended his season and prompted him to redshirt. This past fall, Bowman endured an ankle injury in a loss to Texas, though it sounds like his benching wasn’t due to his health. He eventually returned to start the Red Raiders’ final three games.
That’s a lot of hospital visits and rehab in three seasons. And if you ask Texas Tech fans, Bowman never quite returned to the form he showed before injuries added up. As a result, Bowman may be remembered for what could have been in Lubbock more than what he actually accomplished on the field.
3. Bowman’s toughness should be endearing
In addition to playing through three of those aforementioned injuries, Bowman developed a reputation for his grit while in Lubbock. His gutsy showings against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma as a freshman stand out the most, but Bowman also faced every challenge with that conviction. Even this past fall, one that saw his popularity in Lubbock fizzle, Bowman was benched but stuck with things long enough to win his job back, leading the Red Raiders to two wins and a six-point loss at Oklahoma State in their final three games after a 1-5 start to the season.
In interviews, Bowman comes off as entertaining and confident, but also unflinching. He has seen a lot in his career, and keeps getting back up. He isn’t expected to arrive to Michigan until the spring, but that’s a quality the Wolverines have even admitted themselves that they need this year. Even if Bowman never sees the field, Bowman can make an impact in the locker room if the fit is right.
4. Starting isn’t out of the question
Bowman, able to earn his degree in 3.5 years, was rated as the No. 8 transfer quarterback by 247Sports in this cycle. For context, Joe Milton was rated No. 12 by the same team of national analysts and Dylan McCaffrey was not among the 45 quarterbacks rated. He is immediately eligible, and will have three years of eligibility remaining. Bowman won’t and shouldn’t carry the same level of hype as Michigan’s last transfer quarterback, Shea Patterson. He was benched in his third season with one of the Big 12’s worst teams, and is far from any NFL Draft scout’s board.
Realistically, the Wolverines probably weren’t going to land such a player, with Cade McNamara and five-star freshman J.J. McCarthy also gunning for starting jobs. When the Wolverines entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, they did so looking for players comfortable competing for a job, with experience to counter McNamara and McCarthy’s lack of it and a veteran able to handle and digest a quick install in case of a surprise injury.
Still, Bowman’s addition doesn’t seem entirely for depth purposes. As a recruit in the heart of pass-happy Texas, he was targeted by one of the world’s more respected quarterback evaluators. As a freshman, he post strong numbers against power-five competition. His fallout with Texas Tech could be justified by injuries, the Red Raiders’ offensive line and a coaching change. Jim Harbaugh took in a cast-off quarterback with gas in the tank back in 2015, and Jake Rudock returned the favor with a 10-3 season.
Let’s be clear, expectations for Michigan in 2021 should be unchanged. If Bowman becomes a top-five starter in the Big Ten, he’ll be proving a ton of people wrong. Even winning the starting job would be a surprise to just about everyone. But on Sunday, Michigan landed a talented, experienced quarterback in need of a change of scenery, which isn’t nothing.