For Bowersox, Dreams Of '53 Championship Season

November 18, 1990|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff writer

In the early 1950s, Jack Bowersox went from being an all-state quarterback at Westminster High School to being a national champion playing left guard at the University of Maryland.

All the while, he also played linebacker on the defensive side of the line.

"I just wanted to play football," Bowersox said, "It was quite a transition, (going from quarterback to offensive guard), but it was all football and everything worked out fine. I played offensive tackle back in the 10th grade, which helped."

Changing positions was not the only transition Bowersox had to make going from high school to a highly ranked Division I college team.

"I went from being the biggest boy on the team in high school to one of the smallest in college. There was so much more talent and competition in college," he said.

After graduating from Westminster High in 1951, Bowersox, now a division chief in the Medical Assistance Program at Medicaid in Baltimore, had a number of colleges looking at him, but chose to take a full scholarship to play football under the late Jim Tatum at Maryland.

"It appeared to be the best offer," he said, "It was not too far from home and my high school coach (the late Herb Ruby) encouraged me to go there."

Originally slated to be a running back at Maryland, Bowersox said he was "too slow" to play running back at the college level and was first asked to play on the line at spring practice his freshman year.

His most memorable year at Maryland was 1953, when he emerged as the starting left offensive guard and linebacker on a team that finished the regular season undefeated at 10-0 and national champions.

"It was a great season. We allowed only 31 points and had six shutouts (in the regular season)," he said.

The only setback Maryland had that season was a 7-0 Orange Bowl loss against the University of Oklahoma on New Year's Day 1954.

"Back then, the national champions were selected prior to the bowl games. It was a great game (the Orange Bowl), really well played. We just came up on the short end," he said.

After graduating from Maryland with a degree in business administration, Bowersox was commissioned in the Air Force, where he spent nearly four years as a navigator.

He also was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals in the sixth round, making his decision to go the the Air Force a difficult one.

"It was a tough decision. By the time I left college, I felt I had had enough (football) and there were other things I wanted to do in my life.

You always wonder if you could make it (in professional football) though," he said.

After fulfilling his commitment with the Air Force, Bowersox worked 13 years as an insurance broker before coming to Medicaid in 1976.

Today, he lives in Westminster with his wife, Phyllis, a secretary at Manchester Elementary School. They have known each other since junior high school and first started dating their junior years in high school.

Together they have four children: David, an attorney in Westminster who is married with two daughters; Leanne, a homemaker and mother of three sons; John, a Western Maryland College graduate who is a lab assistant in the research department at the University of Maryland; and Steven, a senior at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

With his playing days behind him, Bowersox still enjoys watching college football and notes the many differences of the game played now and back when he played.

"Television has made it what it is today," he said. "It's more of a business, which takes a little bit away from the sport. It's still a tremendous sport and anyone who plays it still has to work very hard.

"The players today are much bigger, stronger and faster. We didn't have a weight program when I played and there was only one player on our team who was involved in weight lifting."

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