Jackson Bowers’ first year of high school football ended before it could even begin.
In August 2019, Bowers slipped at home and strained his anterior cruciate ligament, an injury that forced him to miss the entire season.
As he watched from the sidelines during Mountain View’s 6-6 campaign, all he wanted to do was be on the field. If the Toros were winning, Bowers felt he could help them maintain a lead. If they were losing, he could help them mount a comeback.
When Bowers returned for the 2020 season, he was excited to play and prepared to work hard after recovering from his ACL injury. This mindset helped guide Bowers to a breakout sophomore year.
“It really pushed me,” Bowers said. “But I’m not done yet. I really want to get better. I want to see myself succeed. I want to be the best.”
After reeling in 25 catches for 330 yards and four touchdowns, people have taken notice of Bowers’ talent. He is a four-star recruit and the fifth-best player in Arizona for the 2023 recruiting class.
Bowers defines his game by his route-running and ability to bring down jump balls — a situation that he says he wins between 90 percent and 100 percent of the time. He demonstrated his skills as a downfield receiving threat last season by averaging more than 10 yards per catch in six games, as well as his playmaking ability.
In a 42-0 win over Dobson, Bowers caught six passes for 97 yards and three touchdowns.
Coach Joe Germaine believes there is more to Bowers’ success than just pure talent. His football mind is second to none.
“I’m not exactly sure what goes on in there, other than the fact that he’s really efficient,” Germaine said. “I think he forms pictures of the concepts as you install them the very first time. He’s got great recall. He can go back to that picture of what it was on a whiteboard or a walkthrough and be able to apply it in a live setting.”
Understanding Germaine’s scheme will be key for Bowers’ goal of bringing a state championship back to Mountain View.
Germaine, the quarterback of the Toros’ 1993 state championship team, is in his first season as head coach at his alma mater after leading Queen Creek. A former quarterback at Ohio State who led the Buckeyes to a 1997 Rose Bowl win, Germaine is bringing in a pro-style system for Bowers and his Mountain View teammates.
Impressed with Bowers’ ball skills and physicality, Germaine said the tight end is someone who can always get open and use his six-foot-five frame to make plays against any coverage scheme. During the 2021 season, Bowers will line up out wide and at the line of scrimmage. Additionally, he is working on in-line blocking from a three-point stance.
At summer practices, Germaine asked Bowers what plays he likes to run, as well as if he would want to go down on the line. This interaction, according to Bowers, epitomized his coach’s communication and football knowledge that he believes will open up the offense.
Meanwhile, Germaine praised the Toros’ star tight end for one of his intangible qualities: leadership.
“You gotta remember he’s just a 16-year-old,” Germaine said. “When he talks, people listen. We want him to be a leader by example by his work ethic.”
Bowers’ philosophy is that if each player works hard and works together, Mountain View will be unstoppable. He hopes to lead this charge, but also wants his teammates to see him as someone who can get the job done.
“If they need something, they can look towards me to go and get it for them,” Bowers said. “We’re down a touchdown, they’re like ‘C’mon Jackson, you got this.’”
Fresh off a 6-2 campaign, Mountain View’s 6A schedule includes matchups against Skyline, Mountain Pointe and Basha — opportunities for Bowers to showcase his talents to college coaches.
The 166th-ranked recruit in the 2023 recruiting class, Bowers currently holds 12 offers from programs such as Arizona State, Brigham Young, Utah and Washington. He took visits to Tempe, Provo and Salt Lake City this summer and plans to take more following the conclusion of his junior season.
As he and the Toros hope for a run to the state championship, Bowers is ready to showcase who he is: a hard worker, a leader and a talented tight end.
“Those other schools that are gonna see me, it’s gonna open up their eyes to be able to watch me this season,” Bowers said. “They’re gonna be able to see what they can get.”