CONYERS -- Lennox Bowie’s dream of playing college football was one that almost never happened.
Following two underwhelming seasons at Newton, Bowie and his family moved into the Salem district before immediately being accepted in as family by head coach Jarrett Laws. 12 receptions in his junior season for 132 years led to a senior season not even Bowie expected to happen.
55 receptions for 710 yards and seven touchdowns awaited Bowie at Salem in 2018 to finish as the second leading receiver in Region 4-AAAA, trailing only teammate Tyler Smith. The season also rewarded Bowie with a scholarship to Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pennsylvania, one of the top junior colleges in the nation.
After singing his National Letter of Intent on Feb. 6, National Signing Day, it wasn’t long after that Bowie received a phone call from Alabama State head coach Donal Hill-Eley.
“Coach Eley reached out to me, and just laid a few things down about the culture and the tradition of the school and it being an HBCU,” Bowie said. “He liked my film and wanted to offer me a scholarship. That’s exactly what happened.”
Torn between the two schools, it took Bowie two weeks to make a final decision on which program he would take his talents to in August.
“I know that a ton of guys from Lackawanna have gone on Power 5 schools, but Alabama State felt like a better fit for me,” Bowie said. “With JUCO football, you do two years and then you’ll have two years of eligibility left. At Alabama State, you’re already playing Division 1 ball and they had my major, so why not? It’s a great fit.”
Even then, Bowie said it was tough to inform the Lackawanna coaching staff that he would not be attending their program.
“That was kind of difficult, I’m not even going to lie,” Bowie said. “They were still texting me practicing film and things of that nature. They were trying to get me to stay on the bandwagon, so telling them that I wasn’t coming was hard. It was hard because they’ve had so many guys go to Power 5 schools. I just didn’t want to wait those two years.”
Bowie also pointed out the proximity of the Alabama State campus to his home in Conyers. Instead of traveling just shy of 850 miles to Scranton, Bowie will only travel 179 miles to Montgomery, Alabama.
“That played a major role,” Bowie said. “I would love for my mom to come and watch me play on Saturdays.”
In the decision making process, Bowie said he did reach out to the Salem coaching staff, including both Laws and coach Johnson, the school’s offensive coordinator that worked closely with the standout wide receiver.
“I talked to coach Johnson a lot more than I talked to coach Laws,” Bowie said. “Coach Laws was fine with my decision. He said that coach Eley seemed like a nice guy and a legit dude and told me it seemed like a good fit for me.”
A tour of the campus further sold him on wanting to stay closer to home while also playing Division 1 football right away.
“I took a tour of the campus and of the football facilities,” Bowie said. “It was a new atmosphere. I’ve been to Division 1 schools on visits before. It being an HBCU school, it just had some context to it and I loved the atmosphere.”
While his goal of playing D-1 football became a reality in recent weeks, Bowie’s plans to suit up for Alabama State will take a minor detour.
“Coach Eley and I both agreed that I would redshirt my first year, Bowie said. “They did tell me that If I really wanted to play this year, I could. They really want me to play, but I figure redshirting would be in my best interest to learn the playbook, get bigger, get faster and feel my way out through the college year. Maybe the year after that, I’ll go out and do my thing.”
Hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps, Larry Bowie, who played fullback at the University of Georgia before taking his talents to the Washington Redskins of the NFL, Bowie said he has a great backup plan already in the works.
“My goal is to get to the NFL,” Bowie said. “That has always been my dream. I want to be a dentist, too. That’s my backup plan if football doesn’t work out after college.”
Bowie thanked the Salem coaching staff for his two years with the program, as well as his fellow receivers, almost all of which have signed on to play college football.
“I’ve never played with guys that pushed me as hard as Tyler (Smith), Makari (Pruitt) and Roy (Jackson) did. Those guys pushed me to my limit. At practice, if I was slacking, they would get on me and if they were slacking, I would get on them. We love each other. We hang out on the regular, so we’re going to keep in touch. It’s a brotherhood that we built.”
If not for his transfer to Salem, Bowie said he wouldn’t be preparing to ship off to college in roughly one month’s time.
“Of course not,” Bowie said. “Over there, they had a lot of guys and I just kind of slipped through the cracks. When I got over to Salem, coach Laws and coach Johnson took me in like family. I grew up with a lot of the players, too. I came over there and it worked out for the best.”