Navorro Bowman- the next Lavar Arrington?


13 PSU 0327 JRH

By Paul M. Banks

“Really, it’s just what we live by and what we’re known for,” those are the words of Penn State Outside Linebacker Navorro Bowman, in description of “Linebacker U,” the apt nickname bestowed upon his school. Penn State boasts two Butkus award (given to the nation’s top collegiate linebacker) winners in Paul Poslusny (2005) and Lavar Arrington (1999). The latter unconventionally wore #11, an odd number for a linebacker, during his days in Happy Valley. He went on to be picked second overall by the Washington Redskins in the 2000 NFL Draft, and make three trips to the Pro Bowl during his seven year career. Today, Bowman wears Arrington’s number, and I asked him about the significance of that.

“If you play linebacker at Penn State, you look up to the best, I believe he’s one of the best to ever come through the program, and I’m thankful to get to wear his number,” he replied.

Thirteen men who played the position at PSU have been named All-American; a superlative no other University can touch. There are currently five former Nittany Lions playing LB in the NFL. The next man to likely join them is Bowman, rated the top outside linebacker prospect by earlier this month. The scouts are very high on Bowman, and if he forgoes his senior season, he should easily be a first round pick. The two guys playing beside him could end up in the league as well. Seniors Sean Lee and Josh Hull are also on the radar of most NFL scouts.

Unfortunately, the trio has not been able to play together very much this season. Up until week 8, they had only been on the field together for two series all year. However, right now they’re reunited…and it feels so good.  “It’s great to have all three of us on the field at the same time, we’re students of the game, and we know the game in and out and that makes us a better defense,” Bowman said.lavar

Of course, one wonders how playing against the spread-option will help prepare Bowman (or any other collegiate Linebacker for that matter) for the NFL. The scheme is everywhere in NCAA football right now, and especially so in the Big Ten. After defeating Northwestern, another spread-option team, 34-13, Bowman talked about what he’s learned from defending the spread these past three years. “You have to worry about five guys going into passing routes and still worry about the quarterback breaking contain and things like that.”

In the Social Darwinist world of NCAA and NFL football, those that can adjust, read and react will move on to the highest reaches, and Bowman’s legendary coach, Joe Paterno certainly thinks he can.

“Bowman’s a fine football player, he’s smart, he’s played a lot of football. He was our leading tackler a year ago. He doesn’t say much, he’s not an emotional guy, but he plays the pass well, he tackles well,” said JoePa, the all-time leader in coaching wins.


  1. paulmbanks says

    seriously referring to a linebacker by #11 just seems weird

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