In-state battle

ESPNU 150 Watch List WR Drae Bowles (Jackson, Tenn./Jackson Christian) is generating a lot of attention to date. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior has 11 scholarship offers from teams like Tennessee, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Mississippi State, Auburn, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Virginia, North Carolina and Arkansas State.

"He's a physical receiver and very strong," said Jackson Christian coach Matt Underwood. "Drae is also a very explosive athlete. He's killer on the outside when we ask him to block. He's naturally strong and just bench-pressed 300 pounds. Drae has tremendous hands and catches everything with his hands and not his body. He snatches the ball. And once he goes, he's gone. He can really fly."

According to Underwood, Bowles is a better person and student than he is a football player. Now that's saying something.

"Drae is a great kid with tremendously high character," Underwood said. "He never causes problems and is a leader in the school. Everyone loves him."

Bowles put up big numbers in 2010 as a junior: 14 total touchdowns and 58 receptions for 1,100-plus yards. He also started at outside linebacker, but college programs noticed him before last fall. He received his first scholarship offer as a sophomore from the home-state Volunteers.

"That was the spring of my sophomore season," Bowles said. "I honestly believe this is a blessing from God. It's an exciting process and I am very thankful. I am trying to stay humble and just work hard every day.

"I think Tennessee is a great place. Coach [Derek] Dooley and his staff are great people. They are genuine and care about me. They want me to excel academically. I feel like they have a great program and it's a wonderful opportunity for me."

Bowles has checked out Tennessee. He has also been to Vanderbilt and likes what he sees from the Commodores.

"I like the academics there and the Nashville area," Bowles said. "The town is great and it's the SEC. I like the coaching staff they put together. They are very good."

The U.S. Army All-American said he remains open with the recruiting process and wants to take the time to see schools other than Vandy and Tennessee.

"I want to check out some schools and I am just trying to take it one day at a time," Bowles said. "I am open with everyone and keeping my options open.

"My decision will be based on the coaching staff and building good relationship with them. Academics are important and I want to pick a place that feels like home. I want to pick a school that will help me become a better man in the future. I will see what school does something that defines me in making my decision."

Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at jamienewbergbw@yahoo.com.