So what exactly is Oklahoma getting in Penn State transfer Micah Bowens?
A heady quarterback who learns fast, understands offensive football and is a true dual threat.
That’s the scouting report on Bowens from his first foray into college football at Penn State, where he redshirted last year as a true freshman.
Mark Wogenrich covers the Nittany Lions for Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation network site AllPennState.com, and he said it caught him off guard when James Franklin signed Bowens out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas.
“It surprised me that he came to Penn State,” Wogenrich told SI Sooners. “Always wondered whether James Franklin viewed it as an opening to some more West Coast recruiting.”
The 5-foot-11, 196-pound Bowens is athletic enough that some major college programs wanted him as a defensive back, but Bowens played exclusively at quarterback his last two years in high school and reportedly liked what Penn State did with Trace McSorely at quarterback — enough that he chose the Nittany Lions out of high school over offers from Arizona, BYU, Duke, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Oregon, San Diego State, UNLV and West Virginia.
Bowens will continue to polish up a big, looping release as he learns the craft under Lincoln Riley. He shows excellent pocket awareness and next-level quickness and elusiveness when getting out of the pocket. He’s also accurate while throwing on the run.
“Obviously he has quickness and change of direction, which we saw on his high school film as well,” Franklin said of Bowens last fall. “So we’re excited about his future, to see what he can do.”
Bowens spent his freshman season on Penn State’s scout team and didn’t get to play in a game. He moved up to the No. 3 QB spot briefly after an injury to Ta'Quan Roberson, but then finished the season on the scout team.
“Micah’s done a good job,” Franklin said. “ … He’s a smart guy, picks up things well. He’s got a really good feel for the position and a really good understanding.”
At Gorman, Bowens completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 2,778 yards with 29 touchdowns and eight interceptions as a junior, then hit 61 percent of his throws for 2,148 yards with 23 TDs and just two INTs as a senior.
His rushing stats were eye-popping, too: 927 yards and 15 TDs (9.3 yards per carry) as a junior and 589 yards and 13 TDs (6.8) as a senior. He also threw for four TDs and scored a rushing touchdown during his sophomore year, and as a junior he caught a 58-yard touchdown pass on his way to more than 6,800 career yards from scrimmage and 86 total touchdowns in 40 career games.
Rivals and 247 Sports both rated Bowens as a 3-star prospect. Playing at one of the nation’s premier high school football factories certainly got Bowens noticed by recruiters. Riley was impressed early.
“We were a fan of Micah coming out,” Riley said on Wednesday. “Obviously had watched him at Gorman and what he had done there and were very aware of him.”
At OU, Bowens is obviously behind starter Spencer Rattler, who won the job over Tanner Mordecai last offseason and then went on to earn All-Big 12 accolades as a redshirt freshman.
But Bowens has confidence that he can play at OU, regardless of the arrival of Caleb Williams — Sports Illustrated All-American’s No. 1 overall player in the 2021 class. It’s widely presumed that Williams will back up Rattler, but Bowens isn’t backing away from the challenge.
“Micah went in the transfer portal and we liked what we saw,” Riley said. “Had some good conversations with him and his family. And again, the interest was mutual and it moved along pretty quickly.”
After Mordecai left for SMU and 2020 freshman Chandler Morris transferred to TCU, Riley offered Bowens an opportunity and a scholarship. He entered the portal on Jan. 15 and came out in Norman on Jan. 18.
“Just one of those things where we had a couple guys leave the room, and when you’re going into it, we weren’t going to take a guy (just) to take a guy,” Riley said, “but at the same time, we thought if a viable option came up in the transfer portal at the quarterback position that we were going to take a good look at it. Because the room right now, with Spencer and Caleb — you’ve got, right now, two scholarship players.
“We lost a couple of really good walk-ons out of that room, too (senior Tanner Schafer graduated; OU did add two preferred walk-ons in Ben Harris and Ralph Rucker). We knew we had to start to rebuild that room back up a little bit, and so we just said, ‘Hey, if a guy pops up that piques our interest that we think could come here and be a good player and obviously contribute and compete and come be what we expect out of that position, then we’re going to take a look.’ ”