- Dave Hooker, Reporter, RecruitingNation
Tashawn Bower is about to have a busy summer.
After competing in the NFTC camp in Baltimore on May 12, Bower plans to start hitting prospective schools in June and July. The ESPN 150 prospect from Somerville (N.J.) Immaculata will visit Auburn on June 3 and possibly LSU, followed by Michigan, Notre Dame and Michigan State in July.
He has already taken a trip to South Carolina and made glowing comments about the SEC, so some have wondered if Bower was destined to head south to play college football. Bower said that's not necessarily the case even though he's been impressed by the Gamecocks.
“I loved it there,” the nation's No. 10 overall defensive end said. “I definitely enjoyed getting to see somewhere down south, an SEC school, meeting all the coaches and got to hang out with a couple of the players, which is really important. The facilities are very nice and I got to know a lot more about the program. It was definitely a good trip and very informative.”
Bower has also visited Ohio State and meeting first-year head coach Urban Meyer was certainly a highlight.
“He was really cool,” Bower said. “I talked with him for a bit and the rest of the staff. They toured me around the campus which I thought was phenomenal. I definitely had a great time there.”
Nearby Rutgers has an obvious advantage with proximity on its side. It also seems to have overcome a hurdle it could have faced in securing Bower, who said he's already comfortable with the new coaching staff.
“They're a great program,” Bower said. “I met a lot of the new coaches. They're very cool people, very similar to the way they ran things with the old coaches there. Rutgers is still Rutgers. They're still the home state [school]. I'm definitely interested in Rutgers.”
However, the Scarlet Knights will have some more competition soon from the Midwest. Michigan has made Bower a top priority. His summer visit to Ann Arbor should certainly help the Wolverines.
“They're recruiting me hard which is great,” the 6-foot-5, 230-pound prospect said. “I really want to see the place. I can't say how interested because I haven't been there, but from what I know, from what I'm hearing and what I've seen, it looks like a great program with great tradition. They did extremely well this year. I'm starting to see the ole dominating Michigan."
Bower has gone public with his top 10 -- Rutgers, Florida State, Auburn, Michigan, Miami, LSU, Michigan State, South Carolina, Ohio State and Virginia Tech -- but said that is subject to change with his upcoming visits. He said he'd like to have a top five by the beginning of his senior season.
Coaches aren't waiting for Bower to make the trip to them. Recruiters from Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, Miami, Virginia Tech, Michigan State and Tennessee during the spring evaluation period.
One of the main criteria Bower is looking for is a high graduation rate. Bower said he asks every school about their Academic Progress Report (APR) and is looking for a school where he feels comfortable.
This summer should help him determine that.