By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – At the start of bowl practices, Kyle Flood said he’d wait until after the Russell Athletic Bowl to sit down with his draft eligible juniors and discuss whether they should leave for the NFL or come back for their senior season.
Well, the first-year head coach won’t have to sit down with Antwan Lowery. Flood’s starting left guard has already made up his mind.
“I’m coming back to school,” Lowery told SNY.tv. “My decision is to come back and help this program to get to another point in school history, to help this offense to shoot for higher goals and to ultimately help myself get prepared for the next level by coming back.”
While Lowery made the decision fairly quickly, it wasn’t an easy one. The 6-foot-4, 305-pounder has a daughter that’s just a toddler. With a family to support, the lucrativeness of an NFL contract is enticing.
“It was [a tough decision], but they’re [my family] behind me 100 percent,” Lowery said. “They helped me out a lot this year. My coaches and my brothers and everybody in my family helped me with my situation with my daughter which is why I was able to just focus on football and focus on school.”
And also why Lowery was able to burst onto the scene after three disappointing years on the banks and play his way onto the All-Big East First Team.
But Lowery’s one break out season isn’t enough. If he could string together two great seasons in a row, he’d vastly improve his draft stock.
“Stuff like that too,” Lowery said went into his decision. “But I’m worried more about my body lasting so when I get there I can stay there rather than just flip-flopping around the league.”
Which is what helped him make his decision. And while his family backed him, the choice was ultimately his and his alone.
“It was all within me. I know that I’m ready to do whatever I want to do with my life,” Lowery said. “But I feel like coming back and getting another 13 games under my belt will help me get prepared for a 17 game season at the next level.”
And if he plays those 13 games to the level he played the past 13, he’ll open the eyes of NFL scouts and general managers.
“That’s something that people have talked to me about,” Lowery said. “But I’m just worried about coming back for the bowl game and then after the season coming back and grinding even harder in the winter and the summer and the fall so this football team can get better.”