If Oklahoma wants a kid like Peyton Bowen it can have him.
Committed to Notre Dame since New Year’s Day, up and pulls Oregon out of a hat on Wednesday, only to not put pen to paper on Wednesday, only to announce and sign with the Sooners on Thursday.
Down the road, when he’s not all-in, not developing, not becoming the player he’s supposed to become, we’ll know why, because he’s already proven he can’t commit to anything in the first place.
A five-star prospect, of which less than 40 exist in the entire Class of ’23. The No. 2 safety prospect in the nation and the highest-ranked defensive signee to choose OU since ESPN began ranking prospects in 2006, he’s everything you want.
But how can you want him now?
I mean, really.
Because now that he’s everything you don’t want.
I can’t do it any more.
Scratch all of that.
I can only channel idiocy for so long.
Eight sentences over six paragraphs is my apparent limit, and yet you know some not-too-small fraction of temporarily jilted Sooner fandom, certain OU would be Bowen’s original Wednesday choice, have gone much longer.
They may still be going.
As though they’ve never been indecisive over a huge life decision; or a huge life decision in which a great deal of money may be involved; or a huge life decision in which a great deal of money and, for crying out loud, a great deal of love may be involved.
Let’s go back.
Bowen is indeed the most well-regarded defensive signee the Sooners have inked in a very long time, probably since Gerald McCoy.
He plays a position, safety, that may put him in position to stabilize the whole defense, because if the secondary can be stabilized, maybe the rest of the unit can be, too.
Who’s to know what the Ducks were trying to throw Bowen’s way, though they have Nike founder Phil Knight on their side.
For that matter, who’s to know what the Sooners threw at him, prior to Wednesday and after?
Yes, we’d like to believe that’s not how OU operates, to just throw money at talent, and it’s sure not what coach Brent Vanables has said will be how OU operates, but it’s hard to know anything for sure when it comes to college football these days.
There’s also the matter of Bowen’s girlfriend, Emma Alvord, herself a Class of ’23 Sooner signee on the soccer pitch and decent chance she’ll make an impact there before Bowen makes an impact in his sport.
“We expect her to contribute right away,” OU soccer coach Mark Carr said after her November signing.
And, of presumedly less import but still a thing, five-star quarterback prospect Jackson Arnold, also a Sooner signee, was a prep teammate of Bowen’s out of John Guyer (Denton, Texas) High School.
Here’s one theory circulated Thursday in the hours prior to Bowen’s signing being confirmed by OU.
Bowen’s mother badly wanted him to choose Notre Dame, yet Bowen’s heart had him badly wanting to come to Norman. So he chose Oregon to make a point to his mother.
Though she endorsed his moving 1,000 miles northeast to South Bend, how would she feel about his moving 2,000 miles northwest to Eugene when what he really wanted was to move 150 miles north to Norman.
I don’t buy it.
I buy confusion.
Because can’t an 18-year-old kid be uncertain about a huge decision bound to impact the rest of his life?
Maybe Bowen didn’t know what he wanted.
I’m 54 and don’t know everything I want.
Do we ever?
Maybe he had to try on all three schools to make the best choice, so he did and he did.
Maybe, for some 18-year-olds, it’s hard to choose when the whole country’s clamoring for a binding decision and you don’t want to disappoint anybody so you don’t for as long as you can and then when you must you’re still not sure.
Maybe we should just ask him.
“As I reflect on yesterday’s whirlwind I recognize that I made some mistakes that I regret and will learn from,” began a statement Bowen put out via his Twitter account on Thursday. “With that being said, I also know that I was blessed to be in the position to consider multiple wonderful universities as I continue my football career.”
He then thanked the Oregon coaches, writing that after choosing the Ducks, “I came to the realization that the decision was not the best path for me.”
He then thanked the Notre Dame coaches, going on to write, “That being said, after deciding to reconsider my final destination I came to realize that my heart was somewhere else.”
In the next paragraph, he wrote “Oklahoma has always felt like home to me.”
He closed with an apology.
“Oregon and Notre Dame faithful, I am sorry for how I handled the process,” Bowen wrote. “Changing my decision on signing day, the hat pump fake, all of it could have been handled better.
“I can’t change what I did, but this experience is something I will learn from.”
Presuming they were his words, Bowen sounds exactly like the kind of prospect you’d want on your team: thoughtful, humble and, at the end, honest.
And because not believing they’re his words serves no purpose but spite, why not believe him?
Wouldn’t each of us want multiple suitors for every new direction our lives had to take?
Wouldn’t we all want a bunch of well-meaning destinations to roll out the red carpet for us when they did?
Wouldn’t many of us struggle to choose when every destination appears terrific?
Can’t we afford 18-year-old Peyton Bowen the same conflict so many of us would undoubtedly face, too?
Eventually, he chose.
Maybe the only thing to say now is “congratulations.”
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