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VIProfile: Kemari McGowan

By Lee Rennick

On the Kennesaw State campus, Kemari McGowan is like any freshman getting used to living away from home, but he is also adjusting to a more intense football training level from his time playing at Middle Tennessee Christian School (MTCS). McGowan had a great senior year at MTCS, earning the 2019 Tennessee Titians Mr. Football Award and beating state statistics. Now, he is ready to move on to the next level. McGowan broke the state record for rushing yards for a quarterback in October 2019. During a win over Grace Christian School in Franklin, he covered 442 yards and scored seven touchdowns.

“[M]y senior year I stepped into being quarterback,” said McGowan, “because our quarterback was recovering from an injury, and I broke a state quarterback record for most rushing yards. [T]hat was kind of exciting and crazy because I didn’t usually even play that position!”

He completed the year with 28 touchdowns and on the defensive side 51 tackles with three sacks. Just part of what lead to his well-deserved receipt of the Mr. Football title after being a finalist the two previous years.

“I was just honored to be a finalist,” said McGowan. “I really didn’t think I would win over the other two guys. Rube Scott Rhea and Kevin Davis both had a great year, not to mention Rube’s team was the one that put us out of the playoffs. But I can’t lie, it felt good to finally come home with the Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Award after three nominations. It really was such an awesome feeling of accomplishment and true happiness.”

McGowan says that he’s not really a huge stats kind of guy. He has always just played hard, and he feels that he has been blessed with some really good games and good coaches who pushed him to keep getting better.

“I really always left it to the coaches to keep track of all of my stats. It was funny because it seemed like there wasn’t too much talk about me as a player until my senior year, and then there was a lot of exciting football stuff happening for me. The last six games or so of my senior year I had people constantly telling me I had set this new record or broken that record. It was exciting, and I really felt like my hard work on the field was paying off.”

Conditioning and being physically disciplined is no joke when it comes to college football, McGowan says. His workouts have definitely changed from an intensity standpoint.

“College Coaches do not play around,” adds McGowan. “It is our job to perform at a higher level. Therefore, all of the training each player does is taken to a higher level. It really has not been too bad, once I got acclimated.”

Football has been part of McGowan’s life almost as long as he can remember. He believes he was seven or eight years old when he started playing in Murfreesboro with the Murfreesboro City League, where he played on the Packers team.

Described as fast, durable, and strong, McGowan believes that his success comes down to coaching. He feels that he was blessed with good coaches from the very beginning when he was a little guy in the city league. His coaches helped him along the way, keeping him on a positive path. And he has also had the opportunity to play with some other very talented players, which has challenged him to be better.

“It feels like I have played football my whole life,” notes McGowan. “I also played a lot of basketball when I was younger, too.” While football is very important to McGowan, he also plans to graduate with a degree in Criminal Justice from Kennesaw State and pursue a career at the Federal level with the DEA or FBI. But he’d like to set a few college football records along the way. He just hopes that college football will happen this year with all that is happening with COVID-19.

Attending MTCS is the reason McGowan feels ready to tackle college both on and off the field. He says it is the best decision he has ever made. He didn’t really want to go there at first because his friends were going to other schools; but once he got there, he made many new friends.

“I can’t say enough great things about MTCS,” said McGowan. “The small school life was what I really needed. And it was a huge blessing to me. The teachers and principal stayed on top of me and pushed me in my classes because they wanted me to succeed. I’m honestly not sure if I would have graduated being anywhere else. I had friends that were just as athletically talented, but they didn’t have the grades to play at the next level because nobody was there to hold them accountable and push and encourage them the way I was pushed and encouraged. I owe MTCS so much.”

His best memories at MTCS come from just hanging out with his teammates on and off of the field. He will always remember the love and support the entire MTCS family gave him throughout his high school football career. He also discovered his interest in criminal justice through a forensics class he took there, although he learned that any class can be fun and interesting with the right teacher.

When not in school or on the football field, McGowan is a typical teenager who loves to play video games, listen to music – both current and old stuff -- and he loves the Fast and Furious series of movies because he has a thing for fast cars.

As temperatures begin to cool, fall breezes fill the air with the scent of bonfires signaling the year coming to an end, and the hope for a football season is strong. McGowan has put away the laid-back days of summer spent with his friends, and he is ready to use that ‘can do’ attitude that has gotten him his scholarship to Kennesaw State to grow as a player, a student, and as an individual.

“I just hope to build on what I have already done,” said McGowan. “Who knows what the future holds for me? I know college life is different, but I have heard it is the best time of your life. Looking forward to seeing how true that is.”

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