Talent, hustle, toughness and determination all came together for Navorro Bowman and the Nittany Lions as the fourth quarter ticked away last October in Columbus. With safety Mark Rubin having stripped the ball from Terrelle Pryor, Tyrell Sales fended off Chris Wells and Bowman scampered to the bouncing pigskin and cradled it as bodies crashed on top of him. Minutes later, the Nittany Lions took the lead en route to a 13-6 victory for the team's signature win during its run to the Big Ten Championship. The fumble recovery epitomized Penn State football -- a group of individuals coming together to make plays that are interwoven to achieve team success. Bowman overcame two great personal losses on either side of the 2008 season, in-between delivering physical, no-nonsense efforts worthy of Penn State's proud "Linebacker U." legacy. His father, Hillard, died unexpectedly in June. And the day before the Rose Bowl clash with Southern California, Bowman's high school coach and friend, Nick Lynch, was killed in an automobile accident. The former Maryland prep Defensive Player-of-the-Year did not start until the fourth game of the 2008 season, against Temple, but from there never looked back, emerging as one of the Big Ten's and the nation's top linebackers and playmakers. The athletic, swift and hard-hitting Bowman is intent on carrying on the "Linebacker U." tradition. In respect of that, he changed his jersey to No. 11 this year, giving a nod to one of the greatest linebackers in program history, All-American LaVar Arrington. Bowman will combine with All-American Sean Lee, tenacious senior Josh Hull and promising sophomores Michael Mauti and Nate Stupar to form college football's finest linebacker unit, according to Phil Steele's 2009 College Football publication. A first-team All-Big Ten choice last year, Bowman will be a candidate for the Butkus and Rotary Lombardi awards and other post-season accolades. He was selected a preseason second-team All-American by Athlon Sports College Football and a third-team All-American and first-team all-conference pick by Phil Steele. Tenacious in pursuit with the speed and instincts to chase down ball-carriers and receivers, Bowman will play a significant role in the fortunes of the Penn State defense the next two seasons. One of five returning Nittany Lions from Maryland, the highly-skilled all-state choice from Suitland HS is an instinctive and punishing hitter with the ability to make big plays. He is on schedule to graduate in December, less than four years after enrolling in the University.
2008 Junior Season
Faced with the loss of 2007 All-American Dan Connor to graduation and 2008 All-America candidate Sean Lee to a serious knee injury in spring practice, Bowman combined with Josh Hull and Tyrell Sales to keep the high level of productivity going for "Linebacker U." Bowman played an instrumental role in Penn State being ranked in the Top 10 of three primary defensive categories, including No. 8 in scoring defense at 14.4 ppg. Bowman led the Nittany Lions in total tackles (106), solos (61), and assisted tackles (45), was second in tackles for loss (16.5) and tied for third in sacks (4.0). He also forced two fumbles, recovered a fumble, grabbed an interception and had five pass breakups. Selected first-team All-Big Ten by the media and coaches, Bowman was the league's No. 8 tackler and he ranked No. 5 in minus-yardage plays. He compiled double-figures in hits five times, including three of the biggest wins -- Ohio State, Michigan and Oregon State. Bowman was selected a first-team Mid-Season All-American by Phil Steele's 2009 College Football and led the Lions in tackles seven times. He finished the season with a heavy heart and an outstanding performance. Bowman played against Southern California in the 2009 Rose Bowl one day after his high school coach and friend, Nick Lynch, was killed in an automobile accident in Maryland. He paid tribute to his coach by breaking the Penn State bowl record with five tackles for loss (minus-21 yards), also tying the Rose Bowl record set by Ohio State's Andy Katzenmoyer in the 1997 game. He also recorded his fourth sack of the season among his eight tackles (seven solo) against the Trojans. For his superb efforts against USC, Bowman was selected to ESPN.com's 2008-09 All-Bowl team, one of two Big Ten players named to the squad. In the 45-14 win over Oregon State, Bowman notched a then career-high 10 tackles and had a pass breakup. In his first career start, Bowman reset his career-highs in tackles (11), tackles for loss (5.0) and sacks (3.0) and grabbed an interception, which he returned 29 yards deep into Temple territory. For his efforts against the Owls, he was named Big Ten Co-Defensive Player-of-the-Week. In the victory over Illinois, he led Penn State with 10 tackles, recorded one pass breakup and forced a fumble in the fourth quarter. Bowman helped limit the potent Purdue offense to just six points by registering seven tackles (six solo), including two for a loss. He fronted a defense that held Michigan to just 87 yards and no points over the final 43:10 in Penn State's 46-17 thumping, tying his career-high with 11 tackles, including one for loss. He came up big in the tough 13-6 win at Ohio State. Bowman hustled in a big scramble to recover a Terrelle Pryor fumble at the Ohio State 38 to set up Penn State's game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. He posted his fifth double-digit tackle game of the season, totaling 10, including one TFL, and added a pass breakup against the Buckeyes. Bowman was named the ABC/Chevrolet Player-of-the-Game and received one of six helmet stickers from the ESPN college football studio team. Bowman tied for the team lead in tackles with eight, including one TFL, at Iowa. He recorded four solo tackles in Penn State's Big Ten title-clinching win over Michigan State. He was a key part of a defensive unit that held All-American Javon Ringer to a season-low 42 yards rushing. Bowman was on the field for 702 snaps, led by 72 plays against USC and 67 against Illinois.
2007 Sophomore Season
In his first season on the field, Bowman played in nine contests, missing the Iowa and Wisconsin games due to a sprained ankle suffered in the contest at Illinois. He recorded 16 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss, with one sack, one forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a blocked kick and a pass breakup. Bowman made a strong debut, forcing and recovering a fumble, partially blocking a punt and making two solo tackles in the 59-0 season-opening win over Florida International. He registered his first career sack against Ohio State, taking down the Buckeyes' Todd Boeckman for a six-yard loss. Bowman made a season-high three tackles each in the games with Buffalo and Ohio State, with two stops each against Florida International, Notre Dame and Purdue. He saw action on 307 snaps on defense and special teams, led by 59 plays at Michigan.
2006 Freshman Season
Bowman was a standout linebacker and tailback for the late Coach Nick Lynch at Suitland HS. Bowman missed most of his senior season with a shoulder injury, but he had a very impressive junior campaign. He recorded an amazing 165 tackles, with nine sacks and three fumble recoveries and ran for 1,200 yards and 22 touchdowns. For his superlative efforts, he was selected the Maryland Defensive Player-of-the-Year, first-team all-state, Washington Post first-team All-Met and first-team all-conference.
Full name is Navorro R. Bowman. He is majoring in crime, law and justice and is on schedule to graduate in December, less than four years after enrolling. Born May 28, 1988.
Bowman's 2008 Game-by-Game
Coastal Carolina 6-3-3; Oregon State 10-4-6; Syracuse 8-5-3; Temple 11-8-3; Illinois 10-5-5; Purdue 7-6-1; Wisconsin 8-5-3; Michigan 11-4-7; Ohio State 10-4-6; Iowa 8-4-4; Indiana 5-2-3; Michigan State 4-4-0; USC 8-7-1.
Bowman's 2007 Game-by-Game
Florida International 2-2-0; Notre Dame 2-1-1; Buffalo 3-0-3; Michigan 1-0-1; Illinois 2-0-2; Iowa-INJ; Wisconsin-INJ; Indiana 0-0-0; Ohio State 3-1-2; Purdue 2-0-2; Temple 1-0-1; Michigan State-DNP; Texas A&M-DNP.