Cardinals rookie Tay Gowan motivated by COVID-19 NFL draft drop

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Tay Gowan knew the best resolution final June was to choose out of his senior season at Central Florida, however that did not make it any simpler to return to phrases with.

As he grappled with the selection in entrance of him, he thought of his toddler daughter, Skyler. Gowan contracted COVID-19 as UCF tried for a second time to start its offseason follow practically a 12 months in the past and whereas at residence he handed the lethal virus alongside to Skyler, who was born untimely at 2 kilos, in addition to to his girlfriend and his mom. After the Cardinals drafted Gowan, he revealed that his mom needed to be hospitalized.

“My household has COVID now all due to me,” he stated, “all as a result of I need to play soccer and pursue my goals.”

He put his household forward of these goals when he determined to not play final season, a transfer that value him within the 2021 NFL draft, the place the cornerback fell to the Arizona Cardinals within the sixth spherical.

However it was a call he does not remorse, because the guilt of spreading COVID-19 to his household was a heavy burden for Gowan and made returning to soccer troublesome to think about.

“I did not have assets at the moment, sufficient cash to even be sure that everyone’s OK, so it was only a lot on me, simply weighing down on me,” Gowan stated. “And, on the time, like no person knew about COVID, there is not any vaccine, so, it was simply very exhausting on a child from Georgia who all he is aware of is soccer and [wants to] defend his household.”

The American Athletic Convention did not announce its soccer plans till Aug. 5, 2020, however Gowan did not wait that lengthy earlier than opting out.

“It was one of many hardest choices of my life, however on the finish of the day I am a household man and can all the time put my household first it doesn’t matter what.”

Randy Shannon, who was UCF’s defensive coordinator in 2020, was good with Gowan’s resolution and made positive his participant completed his lessons. He might see Gowan was scuffling with the choice and the psychological trauma of a COVID-19 analysis.

“It was robust on him,” Shannon stated. “He was nervous about it as a result of it was a state of affairs the place no person knew something about COVID the way in which we all know it now. It was completely totally different again then.

“We weren’t going to power anyone, we weren’t going to inform anyone something totally different, we was going to face by their resolution and assist them by means of the method of it.”

Gowan’s place coach, Willie Martinez, defined to Gowan that UCF was going to attempt to create a bubble-like environment, with every day testing. Nonetheless Martinez, a father himself, understood Gowan’s want to need to defend his household.

“I used to be going to assist him it doesn’t matter what,” Martinez stated.

So for the primary time since he was 5 years previous, Gowan wasn’t taking part in soccer final fall. It received to the purpose the place it was exhausting for him to even watch UCF video games on TV.

He labored out three days every week throughout the season after which on Jan. 4, went to Fort Lauderdale to start coaching for his professional day on April 1. He took every week off to get well after which moved to Boca Raton, a couple of half-hour north of Fort Lauderdale, to coach with Pittsburgh Steelers security Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jr., and his dad.

A 12 months earlier than opting out, Gowan had two interceptions throughout a junior season at UCF that put him on the radar of NFL scouts. Gowan stated he met with all 32 groups throughout the draft course of and all 32 requested why he opted out.

“I believe they simply used it towards me,” he stated.

Within the week earlier than the draft, ESPN’s Todd McShay predicted Gowan would go No. 96 total in his three-round mock draft with Mel Kiper Jr. Gowan, with good dimension (6-foot-1, 186 kilos) and respectable pace (4.47 40-yard sprint on the UCF professional day) lasted till choose No. 223.

“It harm my draft inventory, however I believe it was additionally part of my journey and part of my story after I get to inform it to different children and relay my message and relay my journey,” Gowan stated. “It will make children really feel extra snug taking the kind of route I went.”

The Cardinals, Gowan stated, believed in his resolution to guard his daughter and household. Cardinals normal supervisor Steve Keim additionally noticed a second-day expertise on the board late within the third day.

“That is why I believe he was there the place he was as a result of guys like that may probably slip by means of the cracks, after which they do not play this previous 12 months, it’s a must to return to the ’19 tape,” Keim stated.

“Once you take a look at the grades we had on him, we have been actually shocked. Particularly as exhausting as it’s to seek out perimeter corners, particularly if you say, ‘OK, now all the sudden they’re 6-1, they’ve the kind of motion abilities he does.’ He is so good in press protection, which, once more, we play plenty of in [defensive coordinator] Vance Joseph’s system. Once you take a look at the large image, you notice that he hasn’t performed a ton of soccer, but nonetheless seems that good on tape, nonetheless appeared that good in his exercise. You’d wish to assume he is one other man with a excessive ceiling and one other man who can are available in right here, be taught beneath some actually good veterans, and the sky is the restrict.”

Gowan’s first days on an NFL follow area are behind him after rookie minicamp final weekend. Now it is as much as Gowan to show he is worthy of creating Arizona’s 53-man roster.

His bodily transition to the NFL ought to go easily, Shannon stated. It is the psychological a part of the sport Gowan must get again within the groove on.

“Once you received a 12 months off of studying stuff or doing one thing that you simply usually do, then that is going to be the half it’s a must to get again in and retrain his thoughts and physique to do,” Shannon stated. “That could be the hardest factor, retrain his thoughts.”

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