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October 10, 2008

Lowery provides solid support and experience at quarterback

Note: It was last year during Tech's game against Murray State that Josh Lowery was thrust into the spotlight as quarterback, and the Sparta native has been a steady contributor ever since. With Tech playing Saturday at Murray, Thomas Corhern checks up on Lowery's progress.

Story by Thomas Corhern
Cookeville Herald-Citizen



COOKEVILLE--There was one unforeseen benefit from Tennessee Tech's quarterback debacle from last season.

Once starting quarterback Lee Sweeney was injured during the Golden Eagles' 48-24 win against Murray State last season, it was a relative unknown quarterback who stood in and punished the Racers.

Josh Lowery took over and, in his first collegiate effort, threw for 103 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Golden Eagles to victory.

A week later, Lowery kept the momentum going, throwing for another 133 yards and a touchdown in his first career start.

He kept getting better and better, but he hit a road block in his third game. As Tech hosted Austin Peay for its Homecoming game, Lowery put another strong effort together as he threw for 170 yards.

But in the third quarter, Lowery was done.

Injured.

His wrist broken in two places.

After spending the rest of the 2007 campaign on the bench with a medical redshirt, Lowery is back in a groove.

Through five games this season, the junior backup has thrown for more touchdowns than Sweeney - 4 to 3 - as he has thrown 50 completions out of 74 attempts for 444 yards,
averaging 88.8 yards per game.

Lowery is working his way into more games this season and has proven himself as a valuable addition to the Tech offense.

"It's great," Lowery said. "I always want to play. I'm just glad that I'm getting the opportunity to go out there a little bit more than I did last year. Hopefully, that will continue. The wrist is good to go. I'm hoping it will stay that way since we're halfway through."

He threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns last week against Eastern Kentucky, despite throwing two picks on 16-of-23 passing. Lowery was a perfect 5-for-5 against Central Methodist, threw for 151 yards against Division I-A's Western Michigan, was 4-for-5 against Southeast Missouri and was 6-for-8 with a touchdown against Louisville.

But Tech is not the only area stop that Lowery has had in his career. Lowery was also a standout quarterback at White County. Being able to play so close to home has its advantages for the Tech QB.

"It's fun to play close to home," Lowery said. "You're in a community where they know who you are. I loved it there playing at White County. We weren't the best football team, but I loved it there. I'm always going to be backing them."

Former Warrior head coach Dickie Brown, now the skipper at Clay County, has fond memories of his former QB.

"Josh has got such a quick release with the ball, and he had it up in high school all the way up through my first year over there," Brown said. "Our first year together, we couldn't let him throw the ball as much as would have liked to because the line was so horrendous in front of him. If we tried to drop him back, he would have gotten killed. So there was a lot of three-step drops and quick releases and rollouts and those types of things.

"His senior year, when he could set up and we could give him a little pass protection, he did a great job of getting the ball out. He throws a three-step pass better than any kid I've ever coached. The slant-ins and quick outs and fade patterns and bubble screens and getting it into the flat quickly, I think he did a great job of that in high school. He's accurate down the field with it. He's as good a high school quarterback as I've coached."

And that performance has translated well into his transition into the collegiate ranks.
Lowery spent two seasons at East Mississippi Community College before transferring over to Tech before the 2007 season.

"I always felt like he could play at that level," Brown said. "We tried hard to get him recruited. Tech was very aware of him; Tech had film, but it was the same old story from the old Tech staff. Walk on. I felt all along he could play at that level or the MTSU level."

Both Tech quarterbacks have had their pros and cons this season, but Lowery has really started to step up his game and even Tech head coach Watson Brown admits that Lowery could be the guy leading this Golden Eagle squad if the situation calls for it.

"He's a better quarterback than he has been," Brown said. "The improvements he made have been tremendous and he could have done it last year, but he only got to play one full game before he got injured. He's played really, really well. We're excited about his performance and we've got no problem putting him in if the situation isn't going well. He's handled everything well and he's been a good leader. He's been very good on the sidelines watching what's going on, going in there and reacting to it. He's everything you could want from a backup quarterback. That's why I say we really have two guys who could start. We really don't even consider him as a backup."

And even Lowery's former high school coach admits that the quarterback could be a starter elsewhere.

"I'm watching UT play this year, and he could start for UT right now," Dickie Brown said. "He could; that's not a joke. He's better than Crompton right now."

But right now, it's the Purple and Gold for Lowery.

"Coach Brown has given me a great opportunity here," Lowery said. "I'm just out here trying to do the best I can while I'm out here."