User ID: Password:

November 5, 2009

Bowden strikes a perfect chord in his final season

By: Jimmy Robertson

Let’s say this about Brent Bowden – he’s certainly no dummy. On the contrary, he’s a rather astute individual.

He came to Tech to pursue his dreams, which included playing football and getting his degree, among other things. In that final category, Bowden – an avid guitar player and lover of music – desperately wanted to play Enter Sandman before one of Tech’s games. As most know, Enter Sandman, a song by the heavy metal band Metallica, serves as the intro song for the team’s entrance onto the field and also as a song that Hokie Nation considers its national anthem. But Bowden needed the permission of the Big Whistle, head coach Frank Beamer, first.

So he waited patiently until the summer when he surmised that Beamer would be in his best mood.

“When he’s out playing golf and doing all that stuff,” Bowden said with a smile.

“It’s something I thought would be cool ever since I got here. Me and my roommate and friends talked about it. I thought I might as well ask, and if they tell me no, then it doesn’t hurt anybody. I thought I’d see if I could make something happen.”

Bowden went to Beamer and made his formal request, and Beamer agreed. Then he called Bowden back into his office a couple of days later with concerns that people would think Bowden wasn’t focused on the game. Plus, Beamer didn’t want to stray from normal procedure too much.

But he offered Bowden an alternative – the taping of a video of him playing the intro theme on his electric guitar.

Bowden’s dream came to fruition before the Hokies’ recent Thursday night game at Lane Stadium against North Carolina. Tech’s video staff shot a video of Bowden playing Enter Sandman on his maroon electric guitar (complete with a VT logo on it), looking ever the part of a rocker with his long blond hair. They played the video right before the Hokies took the field.

“They showed me the video beforehand,” Bowden said. “It looked cool.”

Bowden has been playing the guitar ever since he turned 8 years old. Like most guitar players, he started out with an acoustic guitar and learned to play chords. That only whetted his appetite to advance his music career.

He got into playing solos on his electric guitar, and though he listens to all genres of music, he cites heavy metal influences such as As I Lay Dying, August Burns Red, and In Flames among his favorite bands these days.

“You probably haven’t heard of them,” he said, again, smiling.

True, but Metallica is known worldwide, and interestingly, that band served as his motivation to learn to shred, a musical term in which an electric guitar player plays fast passages. Thus, his connection with that band only fed into his desire to play Enter Sandman.

“Metallica is how I learned to solo,” he said. “I started out acoustic for a year and learned the chords, but that wasn’t enough for me. It got boring. Most people stop there and do chords for the rest of their life, but that’s never appealed to me. I wanted to be able to shred. The first solos I learned were Metallica solos, so I’m a huge fan.”

These days, his musical talent is being rivaled by his ability on the football field. The Hokies have been a bit inconsistent this season, as evidenced by a loss to the Tar Heels, but Bowden’s punting remains a constant.

Putting a disappointing junior season behind him – he ranked 58th nationally, averaging 40.4 yards per punt on 69 punts – the senior currently is booming punts at an average of 44.1 yards per punt on 38 punts (heading into the ECU game). He ranked 12th nationally and would easily surpass his career high of 42.5 yards per punt attained in his sophomore season (24th nationally).

“Things are going a lot better than they were last year,” Bowden said. “At the same time, there are a bunch of punts I’d like back. I could be doing better.

“I’ll never be satisfied. I’ll always feel I can do better. But this is how I knew I could punt all along. I’m letting it happen instead of trying to make it happen. I’ve finally realized what that means.”

Things could not be going much better for Bowden in his final season. He’s got his degree, he’s punted well and he’s blasted Enter Sandman from his guitar before a game.

In other words, his senior season has been music to his ears.