Ryan Bowman’s first assignment as a Good Counsel varsity assistant was simple: work with one of the most talented high school wide receivers in the country.
Stefon Diggs, a consensus five-star prospect and Top 10 player nationally, headlined a Falcons wide receiver corps that Bowman – after two years assisting GC’s freshman team – was tasked with leading.
“I walked in and he was the leader of a talented group of wide receivers,” Bowman said. “All the guys followed him. He led with his work ethic and his effort. They see him going out there and making plays, and they all tried to be like that and get on the field.”
Diggs’ natural talent is undeniable to any casual football observer. But what truly blew Bowman away was the Maryland-bound athlete’s attitude toward the game. In an offense that featured playmakers at nearly every skill position, Diggs touched the ball less than your average five-star receiver. But if Diggs’ number wasn’t called, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior was happy to serve as a decoy, or deliver punishing blocks downfield and spring his highly touted teammates for big gains.
Off the field, Diggs brought his enthusiasm for the game in every facet of GC’s pre-game preparation.
“I know the ability and the talent that he has, but what [other people] don’t see is his football IQ,” Bowman said. “He has a great grasp of the game in terms of offensive schemes and what coaches are trying to run. He understands routes – why he would run a post and the other guy might run a dig or a curl and out. He understands those things. He always is in a position to make a play. He’ll have his nose in the playbook. He loves the game of football. To be honest, I can see him playing as soon as he gets [to Maryland] and gets the playbook down.”
Good Counsel did get creative to get Diggs the ball as much as possible. A “multi-dimensional” talent, Diggs could line up in the slot, stretch the field vertically outside, take a jet sweep, or even run Wildcat under center.
“Obviously with a kid like him, if you could get the ball to him every play, that’s ideal,” Bowman said. “But football doesn’t work that way. … If we ran an offense where we would chuck it up over to him every play, I’m fully confident he’d be able to go up and make that every single play.”
On the season, Diggs finished with 36 catches for 770 yards and eight touchdowns, 277 yards rushing and three scores on 17 carries, and returned one punt and one kickoff for touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, Diggs recorded 31.5 tackles (including 5.5 TFLs), broke up 10 passes, picked off four passes and forced three fumbles. The Falcons cornerback was named The Washington Post’s All-Met Defensive Player of the Year in leading Good Counsel to its third straight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship.
“It’s a season full of him making great plays and doing what we asked him to do to get some wins,” Bowman said.
Unsurprisingly, Bowman expects Diggs to make an impact for the Terps as a true freshman. He could be a factor right away on the kickoff return team, which brings back Justus Pickett but loses Tony Logan (graduated), Ronnie Tyler (graduated) and Jeremiah Wilson (transferred). Diggs could also be in the mix to return punts, formerly Logan's job.
At wide receiver, Diggs could be an outside guy or a slot, depending on Maryland’s offensive set. Regardless of the system the Terps run, Diggs should be able to fit in and contribute.
“He’s obviously the type of kid, with the ability he has … that has dreams and aspirations of taking his game to the National Football League,” Bowman said. “If he handles his situation the correct way, keeps his nose clean and in the books and gets the playbook down pat, hopefully he gets a couple lucky breaks here or there to make it to where he wants to be one day."