July 15, 2024

Meet Preston Bowman, the three-star wide receiver tearing up Michigan, Ohio State summer camps

PICKERINGTON, Ohio –  How much is a star worth? 

Perhaps it’s best to ask the recruit working the summer camp circuit in an effort to add one more to his profile.

Preston Bowman – a 6-foot, 195-pound receiver at Pickerington North High School – is one of those recruits. He is a three-star receiver in the 2025 recruiting class according to 247Sports.com. The Wolverines offered a scholarship to Bowman on May 21, which could put him in one of those recruiting situations that show up in The Game a few years from now. Bowman stood out at Ohio State, Michigan and Kentucky camps in June.

A fourth star unlocks more possibilities. Seven receivers were selected in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Six of them – Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze, Brian Thomas, Xavier Worthy and Xavier Legette – were four-star recruits in high school. Ricky Pearsall – the other first-round receiver –  was a three-star recruit and surprise first-round pick. 

Bowman is one of those recruits who emerged and should – at least if performance at those summer camps is an indicator  – move up those recruiting rankings before his senior season. Does that fourth star matter? 

“Yeah, it would,” Bowman told Sporting News. “It definitely would. I feel like I’m a top guy in the country, and I feel like I’ve been under-recruited; so to get that fourth star would definitely mean a lot.” 

Bowman is the best example of how far some recruits go to get that fourth star – and how much one offseason can make a difference in that evaluation. 

“To me, there is no off day,” Bowman said. “You can always do something to get better. … I don’t want to look back and say, ‘I could have done this or would have done that.'”

He is doing everything instead. 

Preston Bowman recruiting profile: ‘He reminds me of a Golden Tate’

Bowman’s day starts at 5 a.m – even when school is out for the summer. That is a work-week in a football factory that continues to export next-level talent. 

Cross-town rival Pickerington Central sent Duke defensive tackle DeWayne Carter to the NFL in 2024. Ohio State has six players from Pickerington on its roster, including Jack Sawyer and Sam Williams-Dixon from North and Sonny Styles, Lorenzo Styles Jr., Ty Hamilton and Max Lomonico from Central. It takes that kind of effort to stand out in this city.  

“We have kids that might have similar talent to Preston, but he works on his skills,” Pickerington North coach Nate Hillerich told SN. “The two days we don’t lift he would come in the morning and get on the JUGs machine. I think he watches guys like Marvin Harrison Jr., and he understands that is what it takes.” 

Bowman also trains with Kenny Stafford, a speed and agility coach who knows the path to the pros. Stafford was a three-star high school recruit who played at Toledo before a 10-year professional career between the NFL and CFL. From January through May, Bowman worked out with Stafford four times a week to improve his change-of-direction and route running within that unique frame – a body type that can be stereotyped unfairly in recruiting. 

“He has the right body type, hands, route running, the total package,'” Stafford said. “He reminds me of a Golden Tate or a Deebo Samuel that has a route tree. It would be like Golden Tate when he was at Notre Dame.”  

Tate – who was 5-foot-10, 202 pounds – was a four-star recruit in the 2007 class. He played at Notre Dame before an 11-year NFL career, so that is a favorable comparison.  

Bowman hit the winter and spring 7-on-7 circuit. He caught 12 TDs at the All-American Underclassmen Combine in San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 5. He played in 7-on-7 in Indianapolis where TY Hilton and Andrew Luck were in attendance. He also made trips to Miami and USC. 

That meant a lot of travel time with his father Geoffrey – who played running back at Miami, Ohio, from 1995-99 – and mother Beth. The Bowmans did not anticipate a summer full of football camps, but Preston wanted to leave no doubt with the coaches. 

“I don’t necessarily know if he thought he would be camping, but based on his situation and based on what he wanted to do he decided to camp,” Geoffrey said. “He’s put on a show.” 

(Pickerington North Athletics)

How Preston Bowman fits in Michigan, Ohio State recruiting 

Michigan offered Bowman on May 21, and that led to more screen time. Bowman was flooded with phone calls, text messages and direct messages from coaches across the country – and he sorted through those while staying on a busy schedule. 

He attended Ohio State’s camp on June 5 – where he backed up an impressive workout with the 4.5 in the 40-yard dash afterward. 

“He dominated,” Hillerich said. “They had him go three times in a row at one point (in 1-on-1 drills). The first thing was, ‘Is he fast enough to play on the outside at Ohio State?’ I think that was Michigan’s question, too. Then it is, ‘If he plays in the slot, is he agile enough?’ Everybody just questions him. ‘Can he motion in and play running back?'” 

Bowman continues to answer all those questions. He earned camp MVP honors at Michigan on June 10. He worked out at Kentucky two days later and was re-offered by the Wildcats. A team 7-on-7 camp at Ohio State on Tuesday continued the circuit. 

“He has grown up around all this,” Geoffrey said. “He has seen some of my former teammates, friends that played at Ohio State, friends that have played in the League. He’s been in that environment where it’s high level. The conversations are high level. The demand is high-level. If you want to play at that level, then that pressure is part of it. Do you meet the bell?” 

The Michigan-Ohio State layer of Bowman’s recruitment is intriguing. The Wolverines have landed just six receivers from Ohio since 2000 – with Mario Mannigham (2005) and Roy Roundtree (2008) the standouts. Of course, Michigan’s most-famous Ohio receiver is Desmond Howard – who won the Heisman Trophy in 1991. 

Ohio State, meanwhile, has the best receiver pipeline in the country right now – one that has produced four first-round receivers in the last three years in Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Harrison Jr. The Buckeyes have not offered Bowman yet, but he has drawn interest that could push into the high school football season. Xavier Johnson – a three-star recruit from Cincinnati Summit Country Day – walked on with Ohio State in 2023. That might be an alternate path for Bowman to stay in Columbus. 

Bowman knows both sides well. He studied Michigan receiver Roman Wilson’s film on one side and zeroed in on Smith-Njigba’s film on the other. Bowman said getting the Michigan offer was a thrill – even for someone who grew up wearing an Ohio State jersey to games with his family. 

“I grew up watching Ohio State vs. Michigan,” Bowman said. “It is really big. With Ohio kids, it is knowing the rivalry is just different.”

The best evaluation of Bowman should be the Pickerington North-Pickerington Central game film from last year. That is the ultimate rivalry game. Bowman had five catches for 203 yards and three touchdowns in a 39-34 victory on Sept. 8, 2023.

“He made the one-hand catch before halftime,” Hillerich said. “The play to start the game. All the big plays he made – that is something we talk about with Ohio State and Michigan and that rivalry game. You need to have somebody who can make plays in the biggest moments, and that’s what he did.” 

Stafford, however, said the scouts will focus on the routes on those touchdowns – which were two slants and a fade. That is another wrinkle to the evaluation process that makes it difficult for three-star recruits to add that next star. 

“I want him to get that fourth star because he low-key deserves it because of the work,” Stafford said. “The receivers I’m seeing in his class who are five-stars, he is as good if not better than them.” 

Why Preston Bowman is a three-star gem  

One day after the Kentucky camp, Bowman played in a 7-on-7 at Pickerington North High School. With one play left against Ironton, Bowman lined up on the outside. He took a jab step inside, went to the fade route and made an over-the–top-of-the-head-catch in the end zone. 

Bowman remains in the present tense on the field, even if the recruiting future can be a day-to-day experience. He is not looking for the other benefits that have become part of the recruiting experience either. 

“I want to just go play ball,” Bowman said. “Me and my parents talk about it. If you go do what you are told and do what you can do, the NIL will take care of itself. I don’t worry about the money. I just want to go play football.” 

Geoffrey and Beth see that every day. They have also put in that work in guiding their son into what should be an eventful final season of college football. 

“I think it’s just his mindset,” Beth said. “He knows where he wants to go. His ultimate goal – obviously like any football player – would like to go to the NFL. We know the percentage of that, but his first goal is to graduate from high school. He gets great grades, and he just wants to play and feel at home at a college he wants to be at.”