The reigning MAC champions added more quarterback depth for the 2019 season.
Former California quarterback Ross Bowers will move from the West Coast to Northern Illinois as a graduate transfer. The news was first reported Friday morning by Bowers’ father, John, on Twitter.
Bowers had been in Berkeley since 2015, but the 2017 season was Bowers’ lone campaign as the Golden Bears’ starter. During that season, Bowers completed 59% of his passes for 3,039 yards, throwing 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He started all 12 games for Cal and finished with a 5-7 record.
The only on-field action Bowers saw in 2018 was during the first half of a 24-17 Week 1 win over North Carolina. He completed 8-of-17 passes for 56 yards before sitting out the rest of the season. He entered camp with a thumb injury, but the reason he missed almost the entirety of the 2018 season has yet to be disclosed. Bowers announced his intent to leave Cal after obtaining a degree in American Studies in mid-December, six days prior to Cal’s infamous 10-7 Cheez-It Bowl loss to TCU.
Bowers is eligible to play for Northern Illinois immediately. The Huskies will have a new look this year under head coach Thomas Hammock, who replaced Rod Carey after a 6-year tenure with the program. NIU returns its starter from the past two seasons in Marcus Childers, who will serve as Bowers’ competition for the starting spot.
Childers, the 2017 MAC Freshman of the Year, threw for 2,175 yards and rushed for 531 — good for 21 total touchdowns. As a sophomore, he spearheaded a 19-point comeback to lead NIU to its first MAC title since 2015 with a career-high 300 passing yards and four touchdowns. In the same season, Childers also obtained his career rushing high of 169 yards in a 24-21 win over Ohio.
Bowers accumulated -147 rushing yards in his Cal career, but a QB keeper in a Friday night upset over Washington State landed Bowers on every highlight reels in 2017. In a 37-3 domination of the Cougars, he escaped the pocket and flipped over a defender prior to the end zone — hitting paydirt and nearly landing on his feet in the process.
Spring practice already began in March for NIU, and the Huskies will take the field in DeKalb for the Spring Game on April 28. Northern Illinois’ season opens at home August 31 against Illinois State. The more-experienced Childers will likely operate as the team’s immediate starter, but Bowers’ contrasting style as a pocket passer could lead to interesting decisions for Hammock and the Huskies.