Press Conference: New Jacksonville Jaquar Luke Bowanko

luke bowankoWhat was your reaction like, what’s it like there? “It’s pretty hectic. When I got the call it was just me and my parents and my little brother, and the dog. The dog didn’t have any idea of what was going on. It’s pretty exciting right now.”

So pretty low-key, just sitting around all day? “Yeah, me and my dad went out and played some golf. It’s pretty relaxing, a good day up here for it, not too sunny. It’s been a relaxing day, just hanging out.”

So did the dog freak out when you guys freaked out when the call came? “Yeah, we had to put him outside because he really didn’t know what was going on. He was barking and going crazy.”

What is the dog’s name? “Bandit.”

On competing for the center job: “I feel like I bring a hard work ethic and determination that was bred into me at a young age. I was going into today, no matter what the outcome was, I was hoping for a chance to get somewhere and compete and make the team better. That was my outlook today so I was stoked to get the call from Coach Butkus, and it’s really just been a great day so far.”

On relationship with Austin Pasztor: “He shot me a text, it’s been a little crazy, just congratulating me. I’ve always looked up to Austin; I played with him my first year starting and he’s kind of role model for me. I’m excited to get down there and play with him again, he’s a great dude.”

On disappointment from not being invited to combine: “Yeah, it’s little things like that in life that kind of put a chip on your shoulder and make you work a little harder. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not worried about it, just hopefully can prove someone wrong and show them that maybe I should have been there.”

On why he thinks he wasn’t rated higher: “I try not to get in the minds of the guys who know what they’re doing. Hopefully they were wrong on me. But, like I said, I had a great time at Virginia and felt like I put my best tape out there and obviously Jacksonville thought something looked pretty good on it, and that’s all that really matters to me right now.”

On scouts maybe not appreciating him playing more than one position: “I don’t want to try to get in the mind of the scouts. They’re evaluating a ton of guys and they’ve been doing it a long time. They get paid a lot of money to do what they do and I respect their opinions and it just happened to be there were guys ahead of me that they wanted to see at the Combine and that just is what it is. Hopefully I can prove them wrong.”

On looking for undrafted free agent spots if not drafted: “My phone was ringing and I was in contact with my agent just looking at rosters and seeing where the best possible fit might be for me. We were hoping it wouldn’t come to that and thankfully it didn’t and I’m excited to be a Jaguar.”

Was Jacksonville on your radar following Brad Meester’s retirement? “Yeah, and they had me down for a pre-draft visit a couple of weeks ago. That was a day trip but it was a great experience and I got to meet a lot of the personnel in the office. That kind of put them on the radar and there’s great energy around there, and I’ve heard a lot through Austin about that staff and how they do things. I’m really excited to be a part of it.”

Have you ever played for someone like Gus? “It might’ve been my last hockey coach when I was a little pee-wee, but he is high-energy and it’s real exciting. He had me for five or ten minutes in his meeting room and I was ready to run through a wall when I was done, so I’m excited to get in there.”

How’d you go from hockey to football? “I didn’t really play football until high school. It was hockey and basketball growing up and hockey is an expensive hobby. So mom and dad kind of pushed me towards basketball and a 6’-6” white guy who can’t jump a lick doesn’t really make it too far in basketball, so the natural progression was for football.”

On life in Virginia: “The D.C. area. I was born and raised in Maryland and lived in Virginia the last 10-12 years.”

Do they play much hockey in Virginia? “I didn’t think there was big hockey there) “That’s the thing, it’s low-key but it lets good athletes like me kind of dominate a little bit.”

Not a lot of competition in hockey? “I could wear my jersey in fourth grade and tell the girls I was pretty good and they wouldn’t know any better.”

Do you have any siblings? “Yeah, I’m in the middle of two brothers.”

Do they play? “No, they’re past their athletic primes but I think live vicariously through me.”

Did your dad play? “He was a basketball and tennis player up in Frostburg State in college. Kind of a skinnier guy but never got into football I guess.”

 

Jacksonville Jaquars director of player personnel Andy Dengler

Opening statement: “Had the opportunity to draft Luke Bowanko, he played both center and guard at the University of Virginia. He’s a fifth-year senior, third-year starter, high character, very football-intelligent. Even this year, he started the first four games at guard, moved back to center. We think he can come in and compete for the starting position here in Jacksonville. High character. We had him in one of the 30 visits, interviewed him. He had a chance to sit down with both of our offensive line coaches and the head coach as they came in. We had a really good feel for him and thought it was a great idea to take him where we did. We think we got great value for him.”

On if he was at the Combine: “He was not, but he got votes. I was on the selection committee and he had several votes by different teams. Each position kind of breaks down the number of people. There are a lot more offensive line votes, but he was in the mix to go, was on the bubble to go to the Combine.”

On if they bring in players to get to know more about them: “When they don’t go to the Combine, part of (the reason they bring a player in) is for medical purpose, you can bring him in and have the doctors and trainers have a look at him. It’s also a get-to-know them session. Sometimes, when they don’t go (to the Combine) and you bring them in , some teams travel them around so they have a better opportunity to find out who they are and what they represent.”

On Bowanko being a high-character person: “One of the reasons is he had played center in the past and they moved him to guard and he didn’t fight that at all. He’s one of those guys that is a team player. You bring him through here and he is a good student. To me he has high marks in that area and it’s easy to stand up for a guy who had had no issues.”

On if he looks for Brad Meester traits in centers he scouts: “I was here when we drafted Brad and that’s hard to replace. We took this guy and we have Mike Brewster, so it should be a good competition to try to replace a guy who I think is an exemplary player, so that’s what we are trying to do.”

On if Bowanko has any flaws: “Part of it was that he played guard at the beginning of the year and I think he is more natural at center. You start out the season at the beginning of the year when you go through and you’re looking at him at guard and then he moves back to center. I think naturally he plays better at that position than he did at guard. I think  it’s a good spot for him. Coach Bradley wants to breed competition at all positions, so it gives us a chance to have another threat there.”

On how the draft has improved the depth of the team: “It’s exciting for me to be able to be a part of it. To see some of the players we’ve taken, I think we’ve upgraded our roster through the draft last year and this year and hopefully we’ll even sign some guys through free agency that will help us as well. It’ll be a good opportunity to help us improve in that area.”

On size and quickness of Bowanko: “Quickness is good, he’s got good short-area quickness. He’s 6’5”, 300 pounds and he can move. They pull him some. Some of the things I think will fit schematically with some of the things that Coach (Jedd) Fisch will like to do. Those are some of the things we try to do on the scouting side: provide them with what they want position-wise.”

On if Bowanko had been target from the onset of the scouting process: “Yes. I think the fact that we brought him in for one of the 30 visits shows the investment that we had in him and the awareness of who he was. We’re happy that we took him, he’s going to be a quality player.”

On if they are able to get starters late in the draft: “It helps your entire team. It helps control your salary cap and gives you a lot of opportunities down the line  for being able to have depth on your ball club and that’s what we are working to do with guys like this that we drafted.”

On if current Jaguars lineman Austin Pasztor, a UVA graduate, gave the team any insight on Bowanko: “I know they talked to Austin and I know that (Bowanko) is friends with Austin. He made a point of that when he came through. We all interviewed him and it’s a process where we go through that when they do come in, they are able to meet with several people. They meet with the personnel staff and he brought up Austin and he thinks very highly of him. Austin is excited about it and he’s excited to be here so it helps in that area.”



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