By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – Antwan Lowery had reached his wits end. It was the middle of December and Rutgers was preparing for the Pinstripe Bowl. Lowery hadn’t seen the field in two months after starting three of the first five games. Relegated to an observer on game day, he was reaching his breaking point.
It almost came when he spent a practice away from the rest of the team, forced to push a cart around the field rather than practice with his teammates. Frustrated with his situation, the Miami, FL native had two options. Quit football and focus on school and his toddler daughter, or persevere through the adversity.
“It angered me to the point where I just was fed up with it, but it also gave me extra motivation to do what I’m doing this year on the football field,” Lowery said of that practice. “When I look back at those hard times last year and the years before when I was just watching and not playing football it really gave me an extra boost on this year and the start that I’ve had this year.”
Which has been the starting left guard for an offensive line that hasn’t given up what they call “a true sack.” (The three sacks they have given up were intentional grounding penalties).
In retrospect, the cart pushing bowl practice was an entire season of struggles coming to a head.
“I had a lot of things in my life going wrong — my personal life — that distracted me from playing football,” Lowery said. “Once things went down hill I just crumbled.”
While Lowery didn’t want to get into the specifics of the problems back home, his issues in Piscataway were his weight.
With Greg Schiano as head coach, Lowery was constantly cutting weight. The effects of doing so were felt on and off the field.
“My weight — that was a constant battle,” Lowery said. “Just trying to make the weight that coach Schiano wanted me to make. I was not eating right, trying to starve myself and whatever the case may have been I wasn’t in the right state of mind and it affected me a lot in school and my personal life.”
Now he’s playing 12 pounds heavier than last year. In turn, he’s stronger and more comfortable with his body. Something he credits his new head coach with.
Sure, he had spent the last three years under the tutelage of Flood when he was the offensive line coach. But things were different with Flood as the head man.
There was a new beginning for Lowery. With that came an added hunger.
“I felt like I still had something to prove. Even though he was my position coach I wanted to show him that what I went through last year is the past and I came out and I worked hard,” Lowery said. “I did what I had to do. I did what he wanted me to do to get to the weight I’m at.
I worked hard and I studied my assignments and whatever the case may have been and he saw that and he put trust in me and when I earned that spot at left guard he told me it was mine to lose and since then I haven’t looked back.”
Still, Lowery won’t forget where’s he’s come from in the last year, and how he got to where he is today.
“There’s times where I could have easily just walked away from it – this program,” Lowery said. “We all had new life when coach Flood took over and I felt like this was something I started and something I’m going to finish.”