He is no longer a young Buck. Now he’s a key option in the passing attack for the Idaho Vandals football team.
Trent Cowan, who earned the nickname “Buck” from his father when he was little, has emerged at tight end after making the switch from receiver in the spring.
The Vandals (1-2, 0-0 Sun Belt) hope to continue to get him involved in their passing attack when they host Georgia Southern (1-2, 1-0 Sun Belt) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“He’s put in so much hard work. ... He’s put in a ton of time throwing when both we do it (in practice) and extra time with (quarterback) Matt (Linehan),” coach Paul Petrino said. “He’s really improved himself, improved his skills in all aspects.”
Last Saturday against Wofford, Cowan had seven catches for 107 yards and a touchdown, the most by an Idaho tight end since Oct. 16, 2010, when Daniel Hardy had seven catches for 114 yards against Louisiana Tech. On the season, Cowan has 11 catches for 104 yards and two TDs. Before he faced the Terriers, he had a good idea a breakout game was ahead.
“I got the ball a lot in practice Thursday, and coach Petrino called me like a half-hour after practice,” Cowan said. “I didn’t think it was going to be anything negative, because I felt I’d played well. He said, ‘You’re going to have a great game,’ that I’d have my number called a lot, and he was right.”
In his first 23 games, the Camas, Wash., product had two catches for 20 yards, serving mainly as a blocking receiver and special teamer. With the Vandals returning no tight ends who had a catch last season, there was a chance for more playing time. The 6-foot-3 Cowan added about 15 pounds in the offseason and now weighs 225.
“You’re happy when you see guys work their tail off and grind and grind. You see it happening in practice, then to see it in a game, it’s a great feeling,” Petrino said.
Cowan said his experience doing just about anything a receiver can do except catching the ball has paid off, making him a more well-rounded tight end. He and fellow converted receiver Deon Watson may create some matchup issues for future defenses.
“The first two years were definitely an experience, had to play as a true freshman as a depth thing, kind of got pushed in there, but I embraced it,” Cowan said. “I got that mentality as a good blocking receiver, tried to do the little things, and am starting to see some of the rewards.”
He’s also trying to live up to the name fitting of a strong, majestic woodland creature.
During his sophomore year, Cowan’s name on the team’s official roster simply said “Buck.” Cowan doesn’t know exactly what made his dad think of it, but animal nicknames run in the family — his sister is called “Goose.” Cowan’s brother, Bobby, a former Vandals punter who owns the school career average mark, told Idaho officials to list him by his nickname.
“I’m not a talkative guy, but my dad’s got a pretty loud voice, so everyone started to hear it from him,” Cowan said. “It could be a worse nickname. I kinda like it.”