During spring football, the University of Washington football coaches sounded like archeologists whenever discussing Ryan Bowman. It's like they discovered a mummy's tomb.
"I think he's like 40 years old now," wisecracked Bob Gregory, Husky defensive coordinator.
"Ryan, what is he, on his ninth year?" UW outside linebackers coach Ikaika Malloe quipped.
If his coaches talk about him like that, image what Bowman must hear from his teammates.
In other words, the 6-foot-1, 280-pound edge rusher from Bellevue, Washington, is a seasoned, grizzled veteran UW player. He is Montlake's favorite football houseguest, someone who's seemingly never leaving.
Back for a sixth season, by using his pandemic free football year, Bowman is one of the old guys. He's one of the Huskies' toughest and strongest players, too, a high achiever since arriving without a scholarship.
He showed up in 2016 as a walk-on. He'll walk away fairly satisfied.
"His leadership in that group, I can't even explain how important that is," said Malloe at the midway point of spring practices. "From the time we broke in practice to him demanding let's go get some lunch, let's watch film together, it was let's get better before we get back on the field. That, to me, is a really good leader."
Going down the roster in numerical order, this is another of our post-spring assessments of all of the Husky talent at hand, gleaned from a month of observations, as a way to keep everyone engaged during the offseason.
Bowman wears No. 55, sharing it with redshirt freshman offensive tackle Troy Fautanu, only now it's a much snugger fit.
As one of the Huskies' strongest players, ranking tied for second on the team in the bench press at 405 pounds with offensive guard Ulumoo Ale, Bowman carries massive shoulders. Shoulders the size of columns.
As a redshirt freshman and junior, he accumulated 9.5 tackles for loss, including 5.5 sacks, each season. People often couldn't block him. His latter performance earned him second-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2019.
He lined up for three seasons in a Husky uniform alongside his older brother, Shane, a defensive tackle and a scholarship recipient from the outset.
Last fall, Bowman played only two games of the Huskies' COVID-19 shortened season, presumably because of the virus, and he couldn't go out that way. His absence was a big reason the UW gave up a disturbing amount of rushing yards against Utah and Stanford.
"I probably took a week and a half to think about it, and weigh out all the different options," he said of his return. "But at the end of the day, it was a pretty clear decision to make."
End of the day?
To hear Gregory and Malloe tell it, he's been mulling his career decisions and any extensions for a decade or more.
Bowman's 2021 Outlook: Projected outside linebacker starter
UW Service Time: Played in 45 games, started 21
Stats: 102 tackles, 25.5 TFL, 13.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 pass defend, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
Individual Honors: 2019 Second-team All-Pac-12
Pro prospects: 2022 NFL free-agent signee
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