After a successful football season that saw him lead Matanzas with 11.5 sacks, Bowens, who ran track his freshman year at FPC, said he's ready to put his past behind him and return to the sport.
As soon as he hit the ground, Bulldogs defensive end Dru Bowens knew something was wrong with his leg.
Following a fake punt against Mainland in 2015, Bowens, then a defensive end for Flagler Palm Coast, chased the Buccaneers’ ump back down the field.
Bowens was blindsided by a crushing block.
“My leg just snapped,” he said. “You could hear it. You could feel it.”
But as the standout sophomore lay on the field at Sal Campanella Memorial Stadium surrounded by trainers and with tears escaping his eyes, he was relieved by one thing.
“I was happy my mom wasn’t there,” he said. “I was happy she didn’t have to see that.”
It was a long recovery for Bowens. He missed the rest of his sophomore season, dealt with the pain of rehabbing an ACL tear and experienced the soul-crushing depression of not being able to play the game he loved.
Things didn’t get much better when he returned to the Bulldogs for his junior season. He was slower and twice as hesitant. His instincts weren't what they used to be. Every time he ran, the same thought gnawed at the back of his mind. Like an angry rattlesnake, another injury was waiting to strike.
As a result, his play suffered.
“I went through a period where I was questioning whether I should play anymore,” Bowens said. “Doubt definitely started to creep into my mind.”
But after a solid senior campaign following a transfer to crosstown rival Matanzas, where he was fourth in the area with 11.5 sacks for a Pirates team that advanced to the playoffs for the second-straight year, Bowens is finally running pain-free. So much so, that he said he’s ready to compete in other sports.
During his freshman year at FPC, Bowens played basketball and ran track. He said he plans to run track for the Pirates this upcoming season.
“It’s the last hurrah. It’s my senior year,” Bowens said. “I’m definitely going to go out there and compete because that’s just how it is with me. I’m going to go out there looking to do a little something even though I haven't been on the track in a long time. I’m definitely looking to make my mark.”
Regardless of how well he does, though, 2017 has been about regaining his once-lost confidence. And looking back — the injury, the rehab, the doubt — Bowens said he was ready for the challenge.
“God throws out tests to people,” Bowens said. “He doesn’t give you any obstacle that He doesn’t think you can handle. I’m really grateful for the challenge He gave me. Everything in life isn’t going to go perfect. Everything in life isn’t always going to go my way, so I’m grateful to God for giving me the challenge. I’m grateful for everything that happened.”