It must be quite a site to see a 6-3, 298-pounder play quarterback. But, hey, to the elementary school kids on a Camden, N.J. playground, Temple offensive lineman Brendan McGowan might as well have been Peyton Manning.
While McGowan didn’t line up under center in the Owls’ September 2 opener against visiting Army West Point — he is the starting center – he was in his element having a great time with the kids.
“I always like working with kids, and mentoring kids at the elementary school was one of my favorite community service (endeavors),” he said of his time this summer at Cream Elementary School, where many of his teammates also participated. “I loved working with the kids, playing with them and seeing the joy on their faces. It kind of brings me to a better place and makes me a better person. They are helping me just as much as I am helping them.”
Whether it is throwing the ball around in Camden or reading to other elementary school kids in North Philadelphia, McGowan is at the ready to help whenever the opportunity arises. Though he most enjoys working with youngsters he is willing to help anybody.
“I enjoy just going out and working with others to make their lives better or more productive,” he said. “I want to help in any way I can because I am living a pretty good life right now.”
McGowan, who earned a bachelor’s in finance, fully appreciates how fortunate he is to be taking graduate courses while also a starting lineman for a team seeking to go at least one step beyond last year’s 10 wins and appearance in the American Athletic Conference championship game.
He is not about to take anything for granted. That includes the classroom where his diligence has paid off in numerous school (dean’s list) and conference (all-academic team) accolades that date to his first year on campus, 2012. Indeed, he has come a long way since he despised arithmetic in junior high.
“In seventh and eighth grade I hated math,” recalled McGowan, who would like to get into construction management. “Probably my sophomore year of high school I started to take calculus and college algebra and started to like it more and more. One of my teachers in high school would sit down with me and help me out. I started to understand it and now I just like working with numbers.”
As McGowan has built an impressive academic resume at Temple, his on-field work has grown as well. After redshirting in 2012 he has started at multiple line positions, including a few games at center last year when Kyle Friend was injured. Friend was drafted by the New York Jets leaving McGowan to handle the position.
None of what McGowan, who is on the Wuerffel watch list for his academic and community service achievements, has accomplished surprises coach Matt Rhule.
“We sort of talk about who’s a great leader, who can you trust and who is a good teammate,” he said. “While he is good at all three of those, he is a guy that everybody rallies around. We tell our kids that the first job we have is to try to build great men and he is well on his way to being a great man.”
Football has played a large role in shaping McGowan into being that man.
“It drove me to be mentally tough, be accountable, think outside the box and work with others,” he said of the sport. “I do that every day with my teammates and those are skills I learned from football. They carry into other areas of my life.”
That includes setting examples for younger players coming into the Temple program.
“I kept grinding and working at my craft,” he said. “It is about showing them that you have to work at anything you want in life. That is the case on the field and off the field.”
There are few better to lead the way than Brendan McGowan.