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Notre Dame Football

Chad Bowden: Notre Dame's Not So Secret Weapon

February 17, 2022

Notre Dame has a new Director of Recruiting as Chad Bowden has been promoted from his previous role of Director Defensive Recruiting with Aaryn Kearney leaving the program for Zcruit in January. 

It's a move that didn’t come as a shock to anyone, especially recruits across the country, as Bowden has become one of the nation's premier personnel staffers. 

Bowden worked previously as Cincinnati's Director of Recruiting, so the role isn't new and will now bring his relentless recruiting style to both sides of the ball. 

The 27-year-old was born for the position as he's the son of former Cincinnati Reds general manager Jim Bowden, who took over the role at the age of 31, which made him the youngest GM at the time. 

Bowden is often described as energic and a ball of fire, which has proved to be a hit with recruits and their parents as it pushes them out of their comfort zone. 

"He's the most outgoing person I know," stated 2023 Notre Dame commit Peyton Bowen‍. 

2023 Platte County (Mo.) defensive end Chandavian Bradley‍ was the first recruit to visit Notre Dame following the COVID dead period ending last June. It marked the first time Bowden could interact with a prospect face-to-face in the blue and gold and Bradley was blown away. 

"His energy - he has a really great energy when he comes out," stated Bradley. "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 in recruiting, but that's not Bowden. 

Recruits see through the fake personas and it's clear Bowden has made a positive mark in person and in other ways. 

"His energy - every time I call, he answers by yelling," laughed 2023 DeMatha Catholic (Md.) four-star defensive end Jason Moore‍. "It's always positive vibes all around.

"Speaking with him, it doesn't even feel like it's a school recruiting me. He makes me feel like another friend I get to speak to." 

2023 Notre Dame commit Drayk Bowen‍ has known Bowden a long time as Cincinnati was the first school to offer the four-star prospect. 

It's a relationship where Bowen has seen every side of Bowden. Bowen has seen the fun-loving guy on visits along with the genuine and firm personality when it came down to crunch time. 

"He's a big part of it with Coach Freeman," said Bowen. "I love talking to Chad. He keeps everything laid back and funny, but when it's time to be serious, he's the first one ready." 

Rick Kimball/ISD
Chad Bowden and 2022 Notre Dame tight end signee Eli Raridon

Bowden is also known for being creative when it comes to recruiting. The ideas aren't always going to move the needle for fans, but they lead to memorable experiences, leading to significant movement on the recruiting trail.

For instance, Notre Dame held 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 staffers hide outside The Gug waiting for recruits to arrive in 10-degree weather to surround the car on arrival. 

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

It might seem unnecessary to those on the outside, but what it did do was lighten the mood and simply make each visitor feel more at home the second they arrived on campus. 

“Chad always has fun with the kids,” stated Jeremy Bowen, the father of Drayk Bowen. “He loves the parents and interacts with us, but the thing I love most is when we are there watching him interact with my son and the rest of the players. 

“His ideas like Men in Black and other little things that he does aren’t designed for the parents necessarily, we get to enjoy them but they are there to interact with the kids. Watching the boys begin to laugh, talk about what happened and engage with Chad when he does these things is really what it’s all about. He is breaking the ice without letting them know he is breaking the ice.”

As a parent, the elder 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 just as much as any coach,” said Mr. Bowen. “He is an extension of Coach Freeman as it relates to how he loves and interacts with the kids and has been one of the most consistent voices. When my son talks about why he chose Notre Dame, he mentions a few things and one of them is always Chad Bowden.

“Chad has the perfect blend of funny and being serious that breaks down barriers with the kids and allows for him to become close to them. Yes, they think he’s funny and also yes they can have serious talks with him. It means just as much to me that Chad Bowden is helping develop my son as a young man off the field as it does any of the coaches.” 

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

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

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