TAMPA, Fla. -- Defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers was supposed to be one of the league's next great pass-rushers when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted him in the second round in 2011. But injuries prevented Bowers from developing into the player Tampa Bay expected. He was released after training camp this year, and was out of the game until the Bucs called him back Wednesday.
The native of Bamberg, S.C., spoke with ESPN.com about his journey and inspirations in this weekly Q&A:
How much did you miss football?
Bowers: Oh my God! I've never missed football so much in my life. Those were the most excruciating 14 or 15 weeks in my life. I was fortunate enough that Coach Lovie (Smith) and (general manager Jason Licht) got together and gave me a call. I'm just glad to be back helping this team because they're doing a lot of great things and I knew they would this year, so I'm glad to be able to help them out the rest of the way.
What have you been up to?
Bowers: I've been doing a lot of different things. Of course I've been working out, staying in shape. I got the opportunity to coach some high school guys back in South Carolina at North Myrtle Beach High School. That was fun. But other than that, just working out. I had a couple of workouts with different teams but I was fortunate enough to end up back here in this great place.
You got to keep up with it, watching games, reading things, just kind of staying in tune with what's going on in the league because you know it's a next-man-up league. You're one injury away from being called up, so you just have to take it in stride.
Did you ever feel like giving up?
Bowers: Yes, about two weeks ago. After Thanksgiving I was like, maybe God has other plans for me. The coach at North Myrtle Beach said if I wanted to become a permanent coach to let him know and he would try to get it done. I was more concerned with playing football. I told him I wasn't quite ready to give up on the dream.
Everything that you've been through, how has that changed you?
Bowers: It humbles you. You're in different situations and sometimes God has to get your attention. That's what he was doing. He sat me down, besides training camp, for almost a year. I really got close to God and kept praying and kept praying and I had a lot of people giving me inspiration and motivation. All the people that prayed and checked on me weekly and daily, I appreciate those people because they kept me going.
What is your advice for a player that is going through tough times?
Bowers: Keep working. I actually spoke to a group of kids on Sunday. They were asking me if I would ever play again. I said if it was in God's will I'll play again, because I haven't given up on my dream. This is my dream. Anybody who has a dream -- whether it's in sports or anything -- if it's your dream, go get it. You have to make things happen. You can't sit around and expect it to happen. You've got to make it happen. You've got to put yourself in a situation to make it happen.
I kept working out. I kept getting workouts from different teams and under certain circumstances they didn't sign me. But I didn't lose faith. I just kept going and kept going and I was fortunate. I got the call.