Chad Bowden: Notre Dame’s not-so-secret weapon

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Notre Dame has a new director of recruiting as Chad Bowden was promoted from his previous position as director of defensive recruiting with Aaryn Kearney leaving the program for Zcruit in January.

It was a move that came as no shock to anyone, especially rookies across the country, as Bowden became one of the country’s top personnel.

Bowden previously worked as Cincinnati’s recruiting director, so the role is nothing new and will now bring his relentless recruiting style on both sides of the ball.

The 27-year-old was born for the job as he is the son of former Cincinnati Reds general manager Jim Bowden, who took over at the age of 31, making him the youngest ever manager general at the time.

Bowden is often described as energetic and a fireball, which has proven to be a hit with rookies and their parents as he pushes them out of their comfort zone.

“He’s the most outgoing person I know,” said 2023 Notre Dame commit Peyton Bowen‍.

2023 Platte County (Mo.) Defensive End Chandavian Bradley‍ was the first recruit to visit Notre Dame after the COVID dead period ended last June. It was the first time Bowden had been able to interact with a prospect face to face in the blue and gold and Bradley was blown away.

“His energy – he has a really high energy when he comes out,” Bradley said. “He always has a smile on his face and has energy. He’s always welcoming and he seems like a great guy.”

It’s easy to fake emotions when recruiting, but that’s not Bowden.

The rookies see through the fake personas and it’s clear that Bowden left a positive mark in person and in other ways.

“His energy – every time I call he answers yelling,” laughed four-star defensive end DeMatha Catholic (Md.) 2023 Jason Moore‍. “There are always positive vibes all around.

“Talking to him, I don’t even feel like a school is recruiting me. He makes me feel like another friend I can talk to.”

Our Lady Commitment 2023 Drayk Bowen‍ has known Bowden for a long time because Cincinnati was the first school to offer the four-star prospect.

It’s a relationship where Bowen has seen all sides of Bowden. Bowen saw the fun-loving guy on tours with the genuine and firm personality when it came to hanging out.

“He plays a big role with Coach Freeman,” Bowen said. “I love talking to Chad. He keeps everything casual and funny, but when it’s time to get serious, he’s the first ready.”

Rick Kimball/ISD

2022 Notre Dame short end signee Chad Bowden and Eli Raridon

Bowden is also known for his creativity when it comes to recruiting. Ideas aren’t always going to get things done for fans, but they do lead to memorable experiences, leading to meaningful movement down the recruiting track.

For example, Notre Dame organized a junior day in January. It was a Men in Black theme around The Gug, which meant staffers wore suits and recruits were agents.

Bowden and other personnel hide outside the Gug waiting for the recruits to arrive in 10 degrees to surround the arriving car.

“I thought it was really fun,” Bowen said. “Coach Bowden came to our car with a frozen beard. All the guys were frozen. I thought it was really funny and I enjoyed it.”

It may seem unnecessary to those on the outside, but what it did was lighten the mood and simply make every visitor feel more at home as soon as they arrived on campus.

“Chad always has fun with the kids,” said Jeremy Bowen, Drayk Bowen’s father. “He loves the parents and interacts with us, but what I love the most is when we watch him interact with my son and the rest of the players.

“His ideas like Men in Black and other little things he does are not necessarily designed for parents, we appreciate them but they are there to interact with children. Watching the boys start laughing, talking about what happened and engaging with Chad when he’s doing those things is really what it’s all about, he’s breaking the ice without letting them know he’s breaking the ice.

As a parent, the eldest Bowen appreciates, but more importantly, trusts Bowden with his son and his son’s future.

“As a parent going through this process, Chad has meant as much as any coach,” Bowen said. “He is an extension of Coach Freeman in the way he loves and interacts with children and has been one of the most consistent voices. When my son explains why he chose Notre Dame, he mentions a few things and one of them is still Chad Bowden.

“Chad has the perfect mix of funny and serious that breaks down barriers with kids and allows him to relate to them. Yes, they think he’s funny and also yes, they can have serious discussions with him. It means just as much to me that Chad Bowden is contributing to my son’s development as a young man off the pitch, as it does to any coach.

2023 De Smet (Mo.) Cornerback Christian Gray‍ appreciates Bowden’s personality like many other rookies and thinks he’ll be in South Bend for a while.

“Coach Chad is one of the best but one of the funniest guys ever,” Gray said. “He’s a great inspiration and teacher. I believe Notre Dame will have him for a long time.

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