Bowling makes most of second chance with Cowboys

With every catch, Bo Bowling is trying to prove to No. 12

Oklahoma State that he was deserving of a second chance.

Bowling was suspended for all of last season and through spring

practice this year while facing drug charges. He pleaded guilty to

possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, spent 30 days in

jail and then set out to redeem himself.

”Watching all of the football season and not knowing if I’d get

to play again, it hurt,” Bowling said. ”I just kept believing,

kept fighting, fought through it and now it’s crazy. It’s

unbelievable. I’m happy, real happy.”

Over the past two weeks, Bowling has developed into the No. 2

target for the Cowboys (8-1, 4-1 Big 12) behind Justin Blackmon,

who leads the nation in yards receiving and touchdown catches.

Bowling has put up back-to-back career days, including 101 yards

receiving in a 55-28 victory against Baylor on Saturday that put

Oklahoma State alone in first place in the Big 12 South heading

into this week’s game at Texas (4-5, 2-4).

Bowling led the Cowboys with eight catches for 92 yards in a

24-14 win against Kansas State two games ago, when Blackmon was

serving a one-game suspension for his arrest on a driving under the

influence charge outside Dallas.

”I knew it was about to happen, and last week it did. I had a

big game,” Bowling said. ”But I didn’t want to come off this week

and not have a good game. I wanted to come back and do just as

good, or even better. That’s all I was focused on was coming out

here making plays, helping this offense, helping this team

win.”

Bowling was suspended indefinitely following his arrest in

February 2009 on drug charges, including a felony. He was accused

of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and of

possession of Xanax, ephedrine and the anabolic steroid

Stanozolol.

He reached a plea agreement this March and pleaded guilty to

misdemeanor counts. In addition to the jail time, he performed 25

hours of community service with the fire department in his northern

Oklahoma hometown, Tonkawa, and went through six weeks of substance

abuse counseling.

When all that was finished, he approached coach Mike Gundy and

athletic director Mike Holder about the possibility of playing for

the Cowboys again.

”I let a lot of people down here at OSU, the coaches. I let my

family down, my coaching staff, the university, and coach Holder. I

had to go meet with him,” Bowling said. ”He’s a good guy.

”He sat down with me, he wasn’t happy with the mistakes I made,

and I wasn’t happy with the mistakes I made either, but he gave me

a second chance and coach Gundy gave me a second chance. That’s all

I could ask for.”

Considering the charges he faced, Bowling said he’s sure ”a lot

of people probably didn’t think it was good idea” for Oklahoma

State to take him back. But he’s determined to prove Gundy and

Holder made the right call, and happy to pay his own way as a

walk-on while doing it.

”I’ve been playing this game since first grade, and it’s huge

to me. It’s my life,” Bowling said. ”I just made sure I did

everything right, everything I could to get back to where I was, do

the things I needed to get done.”

Bowling caught 10 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns in

2008 after transferring from junior college, but has had to work

back into getting playing time and then the starting lineup.

”It took him a few weeks to get into it. You know, he wasn’t

here in the spring,” first-year offensive coordinator Dana

Holgorsen said. ”The kid just is competitive.”

Now, Bowling can look back at his suspension and see he’s grown

into a better person.

”It was just mistakes that I shouldn’t have done, people I

shouldn’t have been around, things I shouldn’t have been doing and

I learned from the mistakes,” Bowling said. ”At the time, when

you’re going through things, you don’t think things happen for

reason, but in the end they do. I wouldn’t be sitting here today

doing this good, being a part of the team like this if those things

wouldn’t have happened. I learned from my mistakes.”