â€œI was a guy who was really pulling for Bo,â€ said Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden. â€œI went and talked to coach Gundy and I thought it was a good idea to give him a second chance. I think everybody deserves a second chance.
â€œHe's a great guy. He just made a bad decision. We all make bad decisions.â€
Gundy had his own decision to make. A risky decision.
Once made, he took it to athletic director Mike Holder, received his blessing and allowed Bowling back on the team, this time as a walk-on, paying his own way without the perks of the training table and all the other extras scholarship players enjoy.
â€œI'll do it,â€ said Bowling, who follows strict rules that include weekly drug testing and mandatory class attendance. â€œI ain't even worried about that. I let a lot of people down here. I let my family down. Let my coaches down. Let the university down.
â€œCoach Gundy gave me a second chance. That's all I could ask for. Even if I didn't come out and play good, just to be on this team is something.â€
The story continues.
Bowling missed spring drills, when new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen installed his scheme, and found himself playing catch-up during the preseason and the early portion of the schedule, a task made more difficult by his call to learn multiple receiver positions.
But with star wideout Justin Blackmon suspended for the Kansas State game, Bowling helped fill the void, producing career highs in receptions (8) and yards (92) in the 24-14 road win.
Then, with Blackmon back against Baylor, Bowling remained a go-to guy, setting new career bests with nine receptions and 101 yards.
Holgorsen likes Bowling's toughness and his willingness to tread through the dangerous middle of enemy defenses. Bowling is a willing and capable blocker, too. Against Texas' press coverage schemes, his ability to get off the line and make plays could be key to OSU's success.
â€œI feel like I'm really getting in a groove and getting back to where I was,â€ Bowling said. â€œAnd it's getting better and better. It's fun.â€
Some around Bowling have noticed a difference. They say he seems much happier than when he was on the 2008 squad, smiling and laughing more.
â€œHe probably loves to play football more than anybody else,â€ Weeden said. â€œAnd he is a competitive sucker. He's a guy you want in your foxhole.â€
And he's a guy Gundy again wants in his program.
â€œI'm happy for him, big time,â€ Gundy said. â€œI could care less about me taking a chance on him, I'm just happy for him, because he really loves to play football. He's a guy who got caught up for whatever reasons and made a bad mistake because things came easy.
â€œHe had to really work to come back here. He's a real success story.â€
A story of recovery.
â€œIt's crazy where I'm at right now,â€ Bowling said. â€œIt's unbelievable. And I'm real happy.â€
After missing all of spring under suspension, OSU wide receiver Bo Bowling has been playing catch-up in the new offense of Dana Holgorsen.
Complicating matters, Bowling opened the season learning all four wideout positions.
Now settling in, the senior from Tonkawa is making a major impact.
Bowling has posted career highs for receptions and yards each of the past two weeks. And of his 17 catches in wins over Kansas State and Baylor, 11 produced first downs.
â€œBo's made a lot of key catches, third down catches on balls that were thrown good, but not great,â€ said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy. â€œHe's been really good for us.â€
Bowling's season so far:
Opponent: Rec, Yds
First 7 games: 12 catches , 98 yards
Kansas State: 8 catches, 92 yards
Baylor: 9 catches, 101 yards
Total: 29 catches, 291 yards