“We’ve got a guy who proved he can go 150 yards against elite defenses and a bunch of receivers who proved they can get Open Whey they need,” said Preston Dial, an Alabama tight -End of 2007 to 2011. Saban’s first four seasons there. “Coach Saban always has a few plays to bring out the tight end when we need it, but it’s about playing with the plays that you have and we have guys that can get open.”

But Smart, a Saban protege who had already emerged as a vocal advocate for tight ends — “We want as many as possible and we want to give them the ball,” he said in 2020 — and offensive coordinator Todd Monken saw offensive options getting tighter as Georgia’s injuries mounted.

Bowers became a famous, albeit inexperienced, fix.

Georgia had aggressively pursued Bowers when he was a prospect in Napa, California, where he was a tight end, a jam, a wide receiver, a linebacker and a kick returner. As a sophomore in high school, when he was just an inch from the 6-foot-4 he is now, his 40-inch vertical jump and 40-yard dash time of 4.55 seconds made the difference stir. In addition to Georgia, he has received offers from Louisiana State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon and Texas A&M, among others.

He announced his signing in August 2020. In 2021, Georgia said in his preseason media guide that he “should fight for playing time as a freshman.” Then injuries made him the star of the entire offensive.

“We knew he had the ability to run after catching — we saw that on tape, they used him in the backfield after high school — but he has a little more reach than we thought and he has proven to be a route Runner evolved. said Monken before the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla., where Georgia defeated Michigan 34-11 to advance to the title game.

Bowers left the semifinals game in the first half with a shoulder problem. Smart said there will be no restriction on Monday night. Before his elimination, however, Bowers scored a touchdown.

“He’s going to play the Z, the Y, the X, the move guy, the down guy,” said Mike Macdonald, Michigan’s defensive coordinator. “They give it to him on backs, screens.”