UNI or Iowa? Bower gets to pick from Div I
by Gregory R. Norfleet · Sports · February 01, 2013

Quincy University, Upper Iowa University, Drake University, Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa and University of Iowa all want Bo Bower.

Bower, an all-state football player for the West Branch Bears, picked UNI last month and seemed certain he would sign Feb. 6 with the Panthers for a full-ride scholarship.

That changed this past week when the Hawkeyes came knocking, offering him “preferred walk-on” status. No money, but all the other advantages of a scholarship recipient — like the promise to play in a Bowl game.

Two Division I teams. A scholarship would be great, Bower said, but, oh, to play for Iowa.

“I’m torn,” Bower said. “I’m leaning toward UNI, but being an Iowa guy, living close to Iowa …”

Bears Head Football Coach Butch Pedersen said Bower faces a tough call. His family is not doing too bad financially — his father, Chris, owns a drywall business and his mother, Tammy, is a teacher — so the scholarship offer does not carry as much weight as it would to others, and there are good opportunities at both schools.

“It’s a win-win situation for Bo,” he said. “These are two really good football programs.”

Bo’s father, Chris, agrees.

“It’s a nice situation to be in,” Chris Bower said, pointing out both teams have good coaches and good players.

Chris said he and Tammy have told Bo not to worry about the money, that it’s a “parent’s duty” to take out loans and help pay for college.

“He needs to get a good education, because after college, football is gone,” Chris said.

Thankfully, UNI and UI offer both, he said.

“We’re letting him decide,” Chris said. “So far, he’s made good decisions. He’s worked his butt off (in sports and school).”

The allure of that black-and-gold jersey is strong, Bo said. He is considering a business major, but also criminology, and both schools offer comparable degrees.

One big factor? His parents.

“I’d like to pay my parents back for what they’ve done for me,” he said. “I’d like to give back to them for all they’ve done.”

Pedersen often talks about hard-fought football games as a “gut check” — a chance to see what a player and a team are really made of. Bo said that may help here.

“When my gut tells me, I’ll know,” the senior said.

Pedersen said Bo has “sprinter speed” at a linebacker position, solid technique, a “nose for the ball,” and a good read of a defense. And with his 6-2 frame, Bower could bulk up to 225 or 230 pounds under the college trainers.

“There’s a lot of upside to him,” the coach said.

Chris thinks Bo will decide by Monday.

“It’s a lot of fun,” the father said. “It’s good stress.”

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