TONKAWA — A sign hanging outside the Tonkawa High School principal’s office, just to the right of the school’s mission statement, reads "Pride in our Past, Faith in our Future.”
Those are words that couldn’t fit more perfectly for one of Tonkawa’s former star athletes, Oklahoma State football player Bo Bowling.
Bowling will be in a Payne County courtroom today standing trial on felony and misdemeanor drug charges, including possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of an anabolic steroid.
Just a few months ago, Bowling had become a major source of pride in Tonkawa, mostly an OSU town, after he worked his way from lightly recruited high school quarterback to self-made major college wide receiver. And he did it just an hour down the road in Stillwater.
If he’s convicted of the charges against him, his fans in Tonkawa will turn to faith, hoping that Bowling can learn from his mistakes and move forward in a positive way.
Bowling was charged Feb. 10 with felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, as well as misdemeanor possession of a controlled dangerous substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
If convicted, Bowling will be at the end of an otherwise phenomenal run in which he proved over and over again that he was good enough — all the way up to the Big 12 level — even if he was the shortest guy on the field.
The 5-foot-9 Bowling quarterbacked Tonkawa to a state championship as a senior in 2005, played point guard on the basketball team, and was a sprinter on the track team.
Tonkawa High School administrators chose not to offer any recorded comments for this story, but recall Bowling as a good student who generally stayed out of trouble — and a fantastic athlete.
Still, Bowling was without any scholarship offers from major football programs when he graduated, so he looked for a place to prove himself.
"He wasn’t a guy we were actively recruiting,” said Rob Green, Bowling’s head coach at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Junior College, now coaching at Piedmont. "Bo basically showed up and recruited me.
"I’ve had the fortune to be around some unbelievable athletes who went to the NFL — Jeremy Shockey, James Thrash, Rod Smith — and I’ll put Bo, athletically, right in there with those guys.”
At NEO, Bowling spent the first few weeks at defensive back, then switched to running back, until the defensive coordinator asked Green if he could use Bowling as the scout team quarterback to prepare for an upcoming opponent that used a running QB.
"The first three snaps Bo took, he scored — against our No.