BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON

Never in his wildest dreams did Forrest City-born Dominique Bowman dream of coaching football at the University of Arkansas, but as of late January that’s what he was hired to do.

Bowman, who played his college football at NAIA  Lambuth University under head coach Hugh Freeze and coached a year at the  University of Arkansas-Monticello, in 2016, took over as the cornerbacks and nickels caoch for Sam Carter, who ended up at Ole Miss.

He met with the media after Monday’s fourth practice of preseason camp and it was the first time to do so since he had been hired.

“It’s been great,” Bowman said. “ It’s exciting to be at Arkansas. It’s been everything I thought it would be and more.  “Good players, good people. The town has been great. Me and my wife and family have been enjoying it. It is everything I expected.”

It happened in large part because of his relationship with Razorback defensive coordinator Barry Odom, who was Memphis’ defensive coordinator when Bowman was coaching at Cordova High School in the Bluff City in 2014 and 2015.

“He sent me a message to call him,” Bowman said of Odom. “I was at another spot interviewing. Like seven in the morning, I went in the bathroom and saw it. I was like, ‘I hope I don’t get this one. I want to be with Barry.’ 

“So, he hit me up and said ‘what are you doing?’ I said I was at the airport. He was like ‘Alright, don’t take a job until you talk to me.’ So, it worked out, and I love Barry. 

“He trusts me, and he believes in me. He gave me an opportunity to be in the SEC with him. So Barry is a huge part, as well as (Arkansas head) Coach (Sam) Pittman. But Barry is the one that gave me the opportunity to come and work with him.” 

The hire thrilled his parents Dennis and Deshay and got him a lot of phone calls upon it becoming public.

“My parents are from Forrest City, I was born in Forrest City,” Bowman said. “I moved to Memphis as an adolescent, but my dad and my parents and everybody… This is a no-brainer. This is the best job in the country for me. I’m excited to get the opportunity.

“…I’m a basketball player at heart, so I grew up a Nolan Richardson fan, 40 Minutes of Hell, so Corey Beck, Scotty Thurman, all those guys, I (grew up) watching those guys play. Corey is from Memphis. I grew up watching those guys. 

“So when I got the job, I had 2 million phone calls talking about tickets and all that and I”m like, ‘I haven’t even gotten there yet.’ But they proud about it.

Bowman also had coaching stops at Tennessee-Martin, Austin Peay and Marshall before arriving at Arkansas.

“It’s been great,” Bowman said of his coaching journey. “It’s been a humble one, but it’s been great. I’m enjoying my time right now…My journey has been a fast one, but it’s been a grind. I have learned a lot along the way. A lot of great coaches and I have coached a lot of great players. I wouldn’t change a minute of it.”

Bowman said he learned one big thing along the way.

“Patience,” Bowman said. “…Back in 2017, I interviewed for a job at Southern Miss and I didn’t get it. I was not ready for it yet. I thought I was. I obviously knew the scheme and schematics, but mentally wasn’t ready for it. So you have got to sit back and wait your time and when your time is right and the opportunity presents.”

Bowman believes he relates well to players.

“I tell guys all the time that I am still a high school guy and I am still trying to get it like you are trying to get it,” Bowman said. “ For a long time, we had a lot in common – Nick Saban didn’t want me and he didn’t want you either. But we’re fine. It is what it is.”

He is coaching a group this season that includes veterans LaDarrius Bishop, Hudson Clark, Malik Chavis, youngsters Keuan Parker and Khari Johnson, injured Jacorreri Turner and LSU transfer Dwight “Nudie” McGlothern, a transfer from LSU.

“There are some really good players,” Bowman said. “It is a veteran group that has played a bunch of ball. “

Clark noticed early on how organized Bowman is in his daily work.

“He’s very detailed,” Clark said. “He lets us know exactly our key, our responsibility. And he doesn’t let it go unnoticed if we mess up. If our progressions are off, he’ll let us know for sure.”

McGlothern was a big pick up for Bowman and his is currently working in the top four along with Bishop, Chavis and Clark.

“For one he (McGlothern) brings SEC experience,” Bowman said. “He started at LSU, he’s tough, he’s competitive. He’s long. He has played a lot of ball as well and brings a lot of confidence into that room. When he walks into the room, he is going to let you know that he is the best guy in the room.”

Bowman has Myles Slusher as the starting nickel with Trent Gordon and freshman Jaylin Lewis backing him up.

“The position in itself is one of the toughest positions in our scheme,” Bowman said. “You have got to blitz, you have got to set the edge, you have got to set the corner. It is a linebacker, a former and a safety all together all in one.

“I feel like Myles Slusher is one of our smartest guys. He can play safety, he can play corner, he can play outside backer, which is the nickel spot.”

Lewis has improved since the spring according to Bowman.

He is physical,” Bowman said. “He is smart.  In the spring, I think it was going a little too fast for him. But once he started to understand the scheme, the game started to slow down for hm.

“Now you see him make a bunch more plays. He’s setting edges, he’s already physical. He was going 1000 miles per hour in the wrong direction at first. But now the game is slowing down for him. Now it’s showing up on the film.”