The last time Shane and Ryan Bowman played football together, they donned the blue and gold of Bellevue High School.
It all hit a pinnacle in 2013 when Shane was a senior, and Ryan was a sophomore. They helped the Wolverines cap a run of six consecutive Class 3A championships with a 52-20 victory over Eastside Catholic.
That was fun, they say.
But now, as teammates together on defense for the Washington Huskies?
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That is unbelievable.
“It is like a dream come true,” Shane said. “Playing football at this level is so special, and to play it with your best friend and brother is something that doesn’t happen all of the time.”
Because the Huskies rotate many players, the Bowmans have seen their share of snaps as second-string defenders — Shane at nose guard, and Ryan at strong-side linebacker. They both came on at the same time on the UW’s opening defensive series of the season at Rutgers, and played right next to each other.
“Both would be the first to admit, they’ve got a lot of stuff they still have to work on and get better at,” UW co-defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said. “But for them, I am sure it is exciting as brothers to play together.”
Shane, a 6-foot-4, 303-pound junior is part of a large pipeline of Bellevue players to move on to the UW. He has played in 25 games for the Huskies, all in a reserve role. He backs up senior Greg Gaines.
But Ryan (6-0, 262) took a much different route to the UW.
Ryan played one more season at Bellevue in 2014, and was part of the Wolverines’ squad that lost in a title-game rematch with Eastside Catholic.
Instead of finishing out his career with the Wolverines, he decided to do something completely different — go off to IMG Academy in Florida for one season.
“I don’t think (people around Bellevue) liked it, but it wanted to better myself as a person and as a football player,” Ryan said. “I wasn’t improving personally.”
So in the spring of 2015, Ryan packed up and enrolled at IMG Academy, a private boarding school in Bradenton, Florida.
“I was just supportive of him on whatever path he chose to walk,” Shane said. “Of course, I missed him ... being 3,000 miles away.”
IMG Academy originally started as a tennis school in 1978 by the legendary Nick Bollettieri, who coached eight-time major champion Andre Agassi during his early years. Eventually, IMG purchased the school, and started other sports programs, notably golf, baseball and soccer.
In 2013, IMG Academy started a football program, advertising itself as the “pipeline to college football.” The school has won 40 of 44 games since its inception, and has produced more than 20 Under Armour All-Americans.
“I went there trying for more (recruiting) exposure, but also to play football against better competition, be more independent and responsible and better prepare for college,” Ryan said.
What helped with Ryan’s transition to a new state and school was the fact another Washington product — Aberdeen linebacker Joel Dublanko, now at Cincinnati — transferred to IMG Academy to play out his senior season. They were roommates in the dormitory.
Yet, by the time Ryan finished up, his college choices were limited. “I was expecting more (scholarship offers),” he said.
So, he decided to come home to play for the UW as an invited walk-on recruit.
“He was way more mature, and really knew how to handle his business,” Shane said. “He came home a grown man.”
And after redshirting last season, Ryan has been one of the Huskies’ best pass rushers, even off the bench.
On Sept. 16 against Fresno State, Ryan recorded his first career sack, forced a fumble and had five tackles in the team’s 48-16 victory. And in last week’s 37-10 victory at Colorado, he had a career-high six tackles, and notched another sack.
His 12 tackles are second-most of any backup behind safety Ezekiel Turner (19).
“It’s the relentlessness,” Kwiatkowski said. “He keeps coming. His feet never stop. He’s always moving toward the quarterback.”
Shane can tell his younger brother is turning heads with teammates and coaches.
“He is playing lights-out, and I could not be more proud of him,” Shane said. “Even though I am older, I can still take things and learn from him. He is really doing great right now.”
1. USC (4-0, No. 1 last week)
Last week: d. California, 30-20
This week: Fri. at Washington State
Which will come sooner, a Sam Darnold breakout or a massive upset loss?
2. WASHINGTON (4-0, No. 2)
Last week: d. Colorado, 37-10
This week: Sat. at Oregon State
Right now, the Huskies look like the most complete team in the conference.
3. WASHINGTON STATE (4-0, No. 3)
Last week: d. Nevada, 45-7
This week: Fri. vs. USC
Getting USC in Pullman, and in prime time is Cougars’ next shot at historic win.
4. UTAH (4-0, No. 4)
Last week: d. Arizona, 30-24
This week: Bye
Utes get two weeks to figure out how offense will run without injured QB Tyler Huntley.
5. OREGON (3-1, No. 5)
Last week: lost to Arizona State, 37-35
This week: Sat. vs. California
Strange things happen in the desert, and shocked Ducks saw that first hand last week.
6. STANFORD (2-2, No. 6)
Last week: d. UCLA, 58-34
This week: Sat. vs. Arizona State
Even shuffling in three quarterbacks, Cardinal scored on eight drives in a row.
7. COLORADO (3-1, No. 7)
Last week: lost to Washington, 37-10
This week: Sat. at UCLA
Yes, QB Steven Montez threw three picks against UW. But he will be a great one.
8. CALIFORNIA (3-1, No. 9)
Last week: lost to USC, 30-20
This week: Sat. at Oregon
Fourth-down gamble, QB Ross Bowers’ six turnovers too much to overcome.
9. UCLA (2-2, No. 8)
Last week: lost to Stanford, 58-34
This week: Sat. vs. Colorado
Guess that traditionally elite defense traveling abroad this season.
10. ARIZONA (2-2, No. 10)
Last week: lost to Utah, 30-24
This week: Bye
Will Rich Rodriguez finally pull the plug on up-and-down QB Brandon Dawkins?
11. ARIZONA STATE (2-2, No. 11)
Last week: d. Oregon, 37-35
This week: Sat. at Stanford
Hearts heavy this week in Tempe after OC Billy Napier’s father loses battle with ALS.
12 OREGON STATE (1-3, No. 12)
Last week: Bye
This week: Sat. vs. Washington
What wrinkles will the Beavers have up their sleeves coming out of bye?