Thursday, December 14, 2017
Colleges

Terry Bowden takes risks to build Akron program

AKRON, Ohio — It could be a case of high risk, high reward in building Akron's football program to a level of respectability.

One player is on campus taking classes and participating in conditioning drills. The other, an incoming freshman, is set to report in the fall. Both have had issues in their past.

They're the kinds of chances a program such as the Zips must take occasionally, first-year coach Terry Bowden said.

The son of longtime Florida State coach Bobby Bowden inherited a team that has won one MAC game and two total over the past two seasons and whose last winning season came in 2005.

"We all make decisions based on relationships we have established that would be considered a risk," Bowden said. "Whether I was at Auburn, whether I was at Salem College or North Alabama, there are situations where that occurs. I look at each situation on an individual basis."

Avis Commack, a cornerback coming from Florida State with a year of eligibility remaining, could bring much-needed experience and depth to the secondary, an area in which defensive coordinator Chuck Amato expressed concern during spring practice.

But Commack left the Seminoles after being charged with stealing a fellow student's iPad, according to media reports. He pleaded no contest.

Bowden said Commack didn't plan to return to FSU after graduating in December.

"(Defensive backs coach) Terrell Buckley has worked with him on and off the field for the past couple of years. So we felt he was an ideal guy to take a chance on," Bowden said. "He made a mistake, and we felt like we could give him an opportunity."

Running back Hakeem Lawrence, out of Hialeah-Miami Lakes High, represents a problem familiar to college coaches.

A talented athlete doesn't take academics seriously, and by the time he graduates, he finds the chance to play in college slipping from his grasp. Bowden said the Zips are waiting for his documentation to go through the NCAA's clearinghouse but expect him to be eligible.

As a senior, Lawrence rushed for 1,818 yards (10.6 per carry) and 22 touchdowns. But he found few willing to take him because of his academic record.Bowden said he's a typical spread offense back who can run, catch and return punts and kickoffs.

"We're trying to get as many people (as we can) at that position. You have to have one shine," Bowden said. "If you have any chances to take, it needs to be a difference-maker or someone who can score points in a game."

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