MSG Varsity counts down the top 30 New Jersey athletes to watch, in no particular order, for the upcoming school year. Today, we highlight No. 17, Immaculata football star Tashawn Bower.
Soon-to-retire Pierce Frauenheim will certainly have accumulated a trunk load of great memories when he leaves his post as Immaculata's head coach at the end of this season.
If defensive end Tashawn Bower has his way, some of Frauenheim's fondest recollections won't even be hatched until Sept. 7.
That's when Immaculata opens its season against Plainfield and the 6-5, 240-pound Bower is expected to begin solidifying his reputation as one of New Jersey's most talented defenders.
Not that Bower did not end the 2011 season with admirable credentials after compiling 75 tackles from his defensive end position and helping the Spartans (9-2) to a championship appearance against St. Joseph of Montvale in the Non-Public Group 3 playoffs.
Division 1 offers began streaming in as fall turned to winter and winter to spring, and Bower ended the suspense when he issued a verbal commitment to Auburn in June.
So now Bower is not only a senior and a multiple-year starter, but also an elite recruit courted by many of the top colleges in the nation, and one who plays for a high-profile high school program.
That means rival offensive coordinators will plot either to stay away from him at all costs (pretty much did last year) or feed him a steady diet of double teams whenever they must attack his post. That also means almost every quick and determined step Bower takes is bound to be scrutinized widely by fans and foes alike as soon as the season begins:
"Can he handle himself in the SEC? Why didn't he pick Florida or Michigan? Is he a weakside end or strongside end at the next level? Shouldn't he have more tackles than he does?"
The questions and dissections with be almost ceaseless, but such is life these days for a youngster once he steps into the category of "big-time" in the public consciousness.
As suggested, teams already were running to the opposite side of Bower last year, but he tracked them down regularly with his speed, agility and his sharp knowledge of the game.
He uses that tremendous athleticism and long wingspan to create constant disturbances for quarterbacks, and he possess balance and leverage to shed the blockers who do come charging when the play is to his side. Bower also is an exceptional tight end with good hands and the ability to clear things out off the edge for Immaculata's running backs.
Mike Kinney covers football for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKinneyHS