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February 3, 2010Donald Bowens knows the thrill of being a college football star, and the agony of missing large chunks of time with injuries.
If the fifth-year senior wide receiver for NC State will be writing a new chapter in his football career, it will be in a different uniform than the familiar red and white.
Bowens, fifth-year senior cornerback DeAndre Morgan and fifth-year senior punter Jeff Ruiz, have all graduated and departed the NC State program according to head coach Tom O'Brien at his signing day press conference.
The 6-foot-3, 206-pound Bowens missed the entire 2008 season because of a back injury, only to then suffer a torn ACL playing pick-up basketball. He underwent surgery in Jan. 2009, and only missed
"The toughest part was the late night, early mornings, cause day in, grind and grind till forever," Bowens told The Wolfpacker in a past interview. "Try to get a little sleep, then get up and grind some more."
Bowens missed the first two games of the 2009 season, but returned to catch two passes against Gardner-Webb Sept. 19. He also had three catches for 38 yards at Boston College Oct. 17, and caught a 35-yard touchdown for his lone score against Maryland Nov. 7.
Bowens finished with 12 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown, but the St. Petersburg, Fla., native appeared to be struggling with his speed and explosiveness after a quick return from knee surgery.
Bowens was emerging as one of the top receivers in the ACC following the 2007 season, when he caught 41 passes for 598 yards and three scores. Bowens wowed NC State fans with 11 catches for 202 ards and two scores in an upset win over Virginia Oct. 27, 2007.
Bowens finished his three-year Wolfpack career with 69 catches for 973 yards and six touchdowns.
The 5-10, 170-pound Morgan, who is the younger half-brother of Kansas City Chiefs safety DaJuan Morgan, started six out of eight games this past season at cornerback. He had 24 tackles, four passes broken up and one caused fumble in 411 plays. Morgan's season came to an end against Virginia Tech Nov. 21 with a concussion.
Morgan started 24 out of 33 games in his three-year Wolfpack career, and totaled 121 tackles and two interceptions. He added four tackles for loss, 25 passes broken up, three caused fumbles, two recovered fumbles and one blocked field goals.
Ruiz, a former junior college transfer, punted 45 times for a 37.9 average, had 18 fair caught and landed 13 inside the 20-yard line in his lone year punting for the Wolfpack.
Ruiz's best game was when he punted three times for a 47.0 average against Virginia Tech, and he also had three punts for a 45.7 averag against Pittsburgh Sept. 26.