'Humble and Kind.' Notre Dame-bound Andrean star Drayk Bowen is IndyStar Mr. Football

Kyle Neddenriep
Indianapolis Star
  • Drayk Bowen is the first Notre Dame recruit to win Mr. Football since Pioneer’s Jack Kiser in 2018.
  • Bowen intends to play football and baseball for the Fighting Irish.
  • Bowen won the high school Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker.

MERRILLVILLE – For all of Drayk Bowen’s accomplishments and accolades over his four years at Andrean High School, football coach Chris Skinner is most proud of the way Bowen has carried himself.

“I guarantee if you ask any teacher in the building, probably the first thing they’ll say is that he’s not loud, he’s not boisterous, he has a 4.2 (grade-point average),” Skinner said. “He just goes about his work and does that he’s supposed to do. Any new teacher would never know that’s one of the highest-sought recruits in the country.”

Call him humble. Call him a great player. You can also call him 2022 IndyStar Mr. Football. An unsuspecting Bowen was presented with the award Friday morning in the lobby at Andrean by Skinner, who walked him through the gym to a “No. 1 Indiana” jersey hanging from a white board with the words “Congrats Drayk! 2022 Mr. Football.”

Andrean's Drayk Bowen wins 2022 Mr. Football

Bowen, a Notre Dame recruit, was awarded the Mr. Football position award for linebacker last week by the Indiana Football Coaches Association. He outdistanced finalists for the top award for senior football players by receiving 241 votes. Center Grove running back Micah Coyle was runner-up with 71 votes and Evansville Mater Dei quarterback Mason Wunderlich third with 55 votes.

“I’m super, super surprised and just grateful,” Bowen said. “Last year I learned more about it and saw (Gibson Southern) quarterback Brady Allen get it and was like, ‘OK, that’s one of the awards I want.’”

There are not many boxes the 6-2, 230-pound Bowen did not check as a high school player. As a junior, he led Andrean to a Class 2A state championship and was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year. As a senior, he led Andrean back to the finals before coming up short against Evansville Mater Dei in the championship game.

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He left his mark, though, finishing his senior season with 144 tackles, four caused fumbles, two interceptions, 19 tackles for loss and five sacks. Bowen also carried the offense at running back, running for 1,784 yards and 26 touchdowns with 10 catches for 228 yards and three TDs. For his career, Bowen posted a mind-boggling 379 tackles, including 54 for a loss, 16 sacks, 10 caused fumbles and six interceptions and rushed for 2,969 yards and 49 TDs.

All of those numbers, however, might take a backseat to the number “2” according to Skinner. That represents the number of practices Bowen missed during high school, both coming this season in the week before the regional as he recovered from a knee injury.

“You could always count on him no matter how tired he was, end of games, crunch time, when we needed one more first down you always knew he was going to pull through,” Skinner said. “To watch someone as talented as him and with that skill level is one thing, but when you pair that with the mental toughness and mental strength and leadership, it has certainly been a privilege to see him play these last four years.”

Bowen is the first Notre Dame recruit to win the award since Pioneer’s Jack Kiser in 2018 and the first player from Andrean to win the award, which dates to 1992.

“It’s super awesome that the coaches think I’m the best in Indiana,” Bowen said. “I’ve worked super hard and everything was for our team to get back to state. It’s awesome to named (Mr. Football) and I know my teammates have helped elevate me so much, so it’s also a tribute to them that this award is at Andrean.”

Skinner said his wife, Meagan, was in tears after learning Bowen won Mr. Football, speaking to his impact on the school and football program. Bowen, the son of Jeremy Bowen and Rebecca McCollam, was named last week as the high school recipient of the Butkus Award, which is awarded annually to the nation’s top linebacker. The 2012 Mr. Football, Jaylon Smith of Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, was also the Butkus winner in high school before going on to play at Notre Dame and in the NFL.

Bowen could follow a similar trajectory. Notre Dame offered him a scholarship a few months after his sophomore season, in February of 2021, when Brian Kelly was still the coach. Bowen committed in November of his junior season, just a few weeks prior to Kelly’s departure to LSU. But Bowen had developed a strong relationship with new Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman, who coached on the first staff to offer Bowen a scholarship when he was at Cincinnati.

“The first offer I ever got was him so (the relationship) goes back a couple years and it really developed when he first got to Notre Dame,” Bowen said. “We talked a lot and our relationship grew a lot more since he got to Notre Dame.”

Bowen plans on being a two-sport athlete at Notre Dame. He played travel baseball with the Indiana Bulls through high school and was a standout shortstop for Andrean, which won the Class 3A baseball state championship last spring.

“Most days I’ll have football and baseball the same day, along with classes,” Bowen said. “It’s going to be a tough go-round the first couple weeks.”

Bowen said he will look back fondly at his time at Andrean. When he comes back years later, his Mr. Football jersey will likely be hanging in the same lobby where he found out he won Friday morning. Not that it will change him outwardly.

“At my house, the song ‘Humble and Kind’ is something that we’ve always lived by,” he said. “You always want treat people with respect. You’re no better than anybody else, but you are also no worse. That’s something I’ve always tried to live by is that if you treat people with respect they are more willing to help you out. This place will always be special to me.”

Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.