Hawaii’s consistent Zion Bowens is transitioning into a new NFL role

Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports
Bowens' blazing speed could help him in a new position in the NFL.

Zion Bowens was a constant force at wide receiver for Hawaii, a position he has played for many years; he led the team in receiving yards and led the receivers in touchdowns. Now, after signing with the Washington Commanders as an undrafted free agent (UDFA), he will try to show off his talents.

“I would like to just show that I can be consistent,” Bowens said. “I want to show that I can be somebody that the coaches can trust. They can put me in any situation, and I’ll be in there, and I’ll know what to do.”

But early on, Bowens will have to prove himself in different ways than he did in the past. He must use his receiving skills in a new role: special teams.

“Before even playing receiver, to make the team and to show that the coaches are there to show that you can do more than just be a receiver and just finding other ways to add value to the team. So I think I’ll be able to do that through special teams,” Bowens said.

YearGames playedReceptionsYardsTouchdowns
Zion Bowens’ Stats at Hawaii

Bowens served as a kickoff and punt returner in high school at Long Beach Poly in Southern California but was not a factor on special teams at Hawaii. Still, he says he believes his blazing speed and other attributes will help him in his new role. 

The Commanders have had Bowens play multiple special teams roles in practices, and he has noticed similarities between the gunner role and wide receiver. 

“My receiver’s skills they do transfer right over,” Bowens said. “Like from the release all the way down to running down and using your hands being physical. Those are the skills that I have for playing receiver definitely transferred to playing gunner.”

As Bowens’ physical skills prove helpful to him in his new position, he will also bring his mental game. While he is humble in his smack-talk, he carries a “dog mentality” that was instilled in him by Hawaii’s wide receiver coach Brennan Marion. 

“I’m really more of a humble type of dude,” Bowens said. “I don’t really talk smack. I kind of just let my ability kind of do the talking for me. But at that level, like at the league level, you kind of do have to have a little bit of a chip on your shoulder, because you’re fighting for somebody’s job out there.”

With a humble but confident mentality, Bowens will fight for a roster spot on the Commanders, hoping to show the coaching staff his reliability and value to the team.

“My goal right now is to make the roster like yeah, once I make the roster and then it’s going to be you know, how am I going to stay in the league,” Bowens said. “But overall, I just want to be somebody who coaches can trust to go out there and like to make a play, somebody who’s reliable and I want to be that throughout my whole career in the league, however long that is. And so, yeah, just you know, making sure you’re staying available, staying ready and healthy. Just so I can be in a position where I am adding value and making an impact for the team.”

Regardless of Bowens’ career length, after football, he hopes to use his communications degree to help others. He has considered joining law enforcement, following his fathers footsteps, or becoming an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter once he is finished with football. 

“When you get to a certain point where you’re able to help other people, you’re in a position where you can help other people. That’s something that I do take a lot of value in and like, ultimately, whatever I’m doing is going to be I want it to be beneficial for the good of others,” Bowens said.