May 18, 2011

Rivals250 receiver gets 'exciting' offer

Drae Bowles took in his first Ole Miss game as a seventh-grader.

Something about the experience stuck with him.

Four years later, that interest has officially become mutual. The Rebels extended a scholarship offer to Bowles Tuesday, a development that the 6-foot-1, 198-pound wide receiver from Jackson (Jackson Christian), Tenn., said was "very exciting."

"I talked to (Ole Miss) Coach (Houston) Nutt on the phone," Bowles said. "He told me I had a full-ride scholarship to Ole Miss. I was really excited. Today's a very exciting day."

Bowles also picked up a scholarship offer from Michigan Tuesday, increasing his total of suitors to 24. He's not quite ready to pare that list or name favorites, but he admitted Tuesday the offer from Ole Miss was special.

"I went to a game (in Oxford) in middle school with my friend," Bowles said. "I really enjoyed The Grove and the fan base there. Since then, I've had a lot of interest. …Today, I was smiling like crazy. It's exciting to have an opportunity to play for them, but more importantly, it's exciting to be able to build a relationship with the coaches there. It's a blessing."

Bowles, a four-star prospect ranked by as the nation's No. 109 prospect, said Ole Miss offensive line coach Mike Markuson was one of the first Division I coaches to show major interest when he stopped in Jackson last spring.

"He's stayed in touch since," Bowles said. "(Ole Miss) said they want to get me in camp and get to know my family and get to know me as a person and as an athlete."

Bowles' offer list includes schools such as Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, California, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, Missouri, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Purdue, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Virginia, said he plans to pare down his list to a workable 10 or so sometime in the next few weeks and then take some summer trips.

"I didn't see this coming at all," Bowles said. "I just played the game of football and played hard like anybody else. God opened doors. …It's been hectic, but not overwhelming."

Bowles said the timing of offers won't have any impact on his decision.

"It really doesn't matter," Bowles said. "It's still early in my book. I haven't even started my senior season. It's a blessing to get offers now."

Bowles said he's looking for a program with "a coaching staff that I have a good relationship with, a place that feels like home and a place where I can contribute to the team, if possible early. I also want a place where I can go and develop spiritually. I'm looking for all of that."

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