Texas commit Billy Bowman Jr. hates to be tackled. That became apparent early in his football career when he’d choose to fall down in flag football rather than get his flag pulled. As he progressed into tackle football in elementary school, his dad, Billy Bowman Sr., remembers a young athlete who’d run out of bounds rather than get tackled. Sometimes, he’d cry if he’d get tackled before reaching the sidelines or the end zone.
“I knew from a very young age that Billy was going to be a great athlete,” said his dad, who happens to be a football coach. “It wasn’t so much his speed or athleticism, but the way he understood and loved the game for such a young kid. He naturally knew how to take angles and what the other team wanted to do.”
Now, Bowman simply avoids the tackels with athleticism.
Bowman scored 17 touchdowns on 54 catches last season, averaging a touchdown nearly every third time he touched the ball. All while also playing every snap on defense and special teams. The Denton Ryan star played only eight to 10 snaps a game on offense. He’s listed as the second-ranked athlete in the country by 247Sports’ composite ratings. He’s ranked sixth on the 2021 Fabulous 55.
His father gets a front row seat to the action as the wide receivers coach at Ryan. Billy Jr. splits his time working at safety and wide receiver. Texas is open to him playing on either side of the ball, or both. The ideal scenario for a two-time all-state defensive back would be to utilize him full-time on defense while working in a package to get him a handful of touches per game, whether on offense or in special teams.
“His ability does surprise me, but it shouldn’t. He’s been impressing me on the football field his whole life,” his father siad. “He’s just doing what he did throughout his youth days. It’s just more impressive because he’s doing it at the varsity level at one of the premier high schools in the state.”
Bowman arrived on the varsity scene as a freshman, earning second-team all-district honors as a slot receiver, catching 37 passes for 358 yards and four touchdowns. He started both ways as a sophomore and junior, racking up eight interceptions as a defensive back and 23 touchdown receptions over that two-year span. He’s returned three interceptions for scores in each of the past two years.
“It’s still too early to know what position will become his full-time spot once he’s at campus, but coach (Tom) Herman has been open with us about understanding what Billy wants to do on the football field,” Bowman’s father said. “I’d say he ends up at safety because he’s a two-time all-state player at that position, but he’s too good with the ball in his hands not to get some touches each game.”
Recruiting athletes with versatility is a staple of Herman’s recruiting strategy. He wants players who can contribute at multiple positions like D’Shawn Jamison, Roschon Johnson and De’Marvion Overshown. Texas currently holds commitments from the top two-ranked athletes in the country with Bowman and Denton Ryan teammate Ja’Tavion Sanders, the No. 1-ranked athlete in the cycle.
The Bowmans went into recruiting with an advantage. Not only does Billy Bowman Sr. coach, he was a former athlete himself. Playing at Ryan also helps because Bowman has been able to watch former teammates like Spencer Sanders, who’s now the quarterback at Oklahoma State, go through the recruiting process.
Those experiences helped the Bowmans come up with five keys to settling on the perfect college.
“First, we needed to know what Billy wanted in a program,” his dad explained. “Then it was about proximity, academics, where you want to end up when football ends, and the relationship with the coaching staff. Coaches change, so we concentrated on the first four.”
The family began taking recruiting trips in the spring of 2019. They visited programs including Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Texas A&M. The last stop on the spring visit schedule was Texas. A few days after returning home, Bowman made an announcement to the family.
“He was ready to commit to Texas,” his father said. “The Longhorns checked all of his boxes and he loves coach Herman. I’ve always taught him to trust his instincts, and he felt right at Texas, so he called up the coaches and committed.”
Bowman made his decision public last July, and remained even through Texas’ changes at both offensive and defensive coordinator.
“We know coaches are going to change, whether they move on or get replaced,” Bowman’s father said. “He picked a university, and he’s happy with his decision.”