Michael Bowman had the talent to contribute as a freshman for Havelock’s 3A state championship team last season.
The 5-foot-11 wide receiver remained on junior varsity until the Rams made the postseason. Rams’ head coach Jim Bob Bryant wanted to gauge Bowman’s dedication to the football program.
A year older, Bowman has blossomed into one of Havelock quarterback Pharoh Cooper’s top receiving target.
“He’s grown leaps and bounds as a person and an athlete,” Bryant said. “As most freshmen are, when they come in, it takes a year to get that middle school mentality out of them. He was a little mischievous, like most of us were at that age, and he’s grown up into a great kid.”
Bowman played a hybrid running back on Havelock’s JV team, prior to getting moved for the varsity squad’s second-round playoff game against West Carteret. Bowman scored in Havelock’s 64-7 win over Cleveland in the eastern finals.
“We knew that, coming in as a freshman, that he was a tremendous athlete,” Bryant said. “He has as much raw, natural ability as any athlete that I’ve coached. He is a big, physical kid. What we ask him to do is catch short routes, and he breaks tackles.”
Bowman, now a sophomore, is thriving in a much larger role. He has 21 receptions for 346 yards and four touchdowns for the season.
He had five catches for 122 yards in Havelock’s 55-6 victory over Jones Senior Aug. 31.
“It’s a target on my back and it makes teams have to try and stop me,” Bowman said. “If they need someone to throw the ball to, they can count on me.”
Havelock begins Coastal Conference play on Friday at White Oak. The Rams haven’t lost a conference game since a 34-30 defeat to West Carteret on Oct. 29, 2010 — a span of eight-straight games.
If the Rams want to continue their streak, Bowman will certainly continue to get the football.
“I’ve been working really hard in practice and getting the routes down,” Bowman said. “Last year was kind of easy, but it’s gotten tougher. I’ve had to step my game up.”
Bowman, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, credits his breakout year to the effort he put in the offseason.
“It’s improving,” Bowman said. “I have to keep working hard and be stronger when I get the ball. I came in wanting to make a lot of catches and not drop so many balls, and make more touchdowns.”
Bowman still has two more years to polish his game. He has big plans for once his playing career is over at Havelock.
“I want to make it through high school and make it on a college football team,” Bowman said. “I’m trying to keep on getting bigger and faster.”