This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
SALT LAKE CITY — Eric Rowe came to the University of Utah just wanting to “have fun and win games” as he traversed the college landscape in pursuit of an education. But along the way, the dream of the NFL became a reality.
“I was just having fun. Through high school I was having fun and got some college scholarships and went to Utah,” Rowe said. “I wasn’t really focused on, ‘I’ve got to make it to the NFL.’ I just wanted to have fun and win games and be a college student. It all kind of fell in place to here now.”
After months of dedicated training toward making an NFL roster, Rowe now sits back and is left waiting for his name to be called sometime during the NFL Draft.
“Right now I’m anxious — excited and anxious. I kinda want to know where I’m going to live,” he said.
“It’s been a long process,” he added. “After Christmas it’s been nothing but working out, doing the Senior Bowl, the combine, all these private workouts. It’s been a lot, but after a while it just becomes a routine to me. After that it really just feels like an everyday thing.”
Throughout Rowe’s regimented routine and dedication put into preparing for the NFL Draft, teams started to take notice. The 6-foot-1 defensive back had an impressive showing at the NFL Combine, becoming a “top performer” in each of the categories he tested in. As a result, Rowe went from seemingly a lower-round draft pick to a potential top pick in the second round.
But Rowe can’t point to any one thing he’s done since turning his attention to the NFL that has helped his stock rise leading up to the draft.
Usually when I put in work it's not for people to be able to recognize me or to give me praise. I put in the work because I'm a competitor and I want to be better than the next guy. It's great that they're starting to recognize all the work I've put in.
“I really don’t know,” he said, laughing. “The combine got my name out there, so maybe they were looking at some more tape on me. In the interviews, I wasn’t doing anything special. I was just going in and just being me — joke around with them. I’m happy for it, but I don’t know what I’m doing special.”
Nevertheless, Rowe is grateful teams have taken note of his playmaking abilities.
“Usually when I put in work it’s not for people to be able to recognize me or to give me praise,” Rowe said. “I put in the work because I’m a competitor and I want to be better than the next guy. It’s great that they’re starting to recognize all the work I’ve put in.”
Rowe played safety all through high school and for most of his college career at Utah before the coaching staff asked Rowe to slide over to corner. Rowe said he was excited for the opportunity to look at the game from “another angle” and feels as though that transition has helped give him an edge against several other corners looking to get drafted this year.
“I was excited to see football from another angle,” he said. “I played safety through my high school career, whole college career, so taking a chance to see another angle of the game — learn another position — I was pretty excited about it.
“It gave me versatility,” Rowe added. “But overall, it really heightened my man-coverage game. That’s what the NFL is today; they need people that can cover.”
Rowe credits the University of Utah with preparing him for the NFL, saying the coaching staff and others tied to the football program helped explain the game in a way that gives him a competitive advantage over some other prospects.
“I can explain the defense and almost show almost every person’s responsibility and different types of things,” Rowe said. “There’s some guys that I’ve found out don’t know how to do that.
“I loved my experience (at Utah). I definitely don’t regret choosing Utah over other schools,” he said. “I want to be another Ute that makes it to the NFL. It ultimately helps the school in the long run.”
Rowe is currently listed as the third-best player on the board coming into the second round of the draft, according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. Rowe is the projected favorite to be the first player drafted from the University of Utah.
Contributing: Jeremiah Jensen