As we continue our march to kickoff, we take a look at the top 100 recruits to sign with Auburn of all-time*. The rankings are based on 247’s composite recruit rankings, which unfortunately only date back to 2000.
“Cowart has to be one of the best looking prospects off the hoof that you will find anywhere in any class in high school football. He has great size, build and length. Cowart looks like a guy that has already spent a season or two in college. As a player he’s still developing and finding his way. He shows flashes and will disappear. When he’s on Cowart is a nasty defensive line prospect that can play the run and get after the passer.” - Jamie Newberg
Here we are folks. The highest rated recruit Auburn has ever signed. A defensive lineman out of Armwood HS in Seffner, FL, Cowart was billed as the next Jadeveon Clowney. He was mean, tough, and looked like an NFL prospect at 18 years old. He had the power and strength to blow through blockers and rag-doll, quarterbacks like we talked about with Montravius Adams, but he also came with the speed to rush the edge and chase down any plays that were designed to avoid him.
Cowart and three other Sunshine State prospects had all mentioned the desire to play together in college, and Auburn was in a dead heat with the Florida Gators for all of them. OL Martez Ivey (#2 recruit in the country), Cowart (#3), DL Cece Jefferson (#7), and LB Jeff Holland (#122). Rumors were everywhere regarding who was going to land this super bundle of recruits all the way through signing day, and it ended up as one of the most eventful signing days in Auburn history.
Cowart was the first to commit on the morning of National Signing Day, picking the Auburn Tigers on national television. Holland committed soon after to the Tigers, and it looked like new Auburn DC and former Florida head coach Will Muschamp was going to haul in all four. Ivey was slated to be the next to commit, but before that happened, rumors began swirling that Cowart’s NLI had not been sent in and that his status was still up in the air. The story that finally came out is Cowart’s coach at Armwood, Sean Callahan, wouldn’t send in the fax and was still pushing Cowart towards Florida.
Ultimately, cooler heads prevailed, and Auburn received the NLI from Cowart. Ivey and Jefferson went on to commit to Florida, however, and the dream of hauling in all four recruits was gone.
Despite being one of the top two or three high school recruits in the country, Cowart came in and was buried in the depth chart behind super star Carl Lawson and senior DeVontae Lambert. Even after Lawson’s week one injury which knocked him out for the year, Cowart recorded snaps in every game in 2015, but his overall playing was sparse - he totaled just six tackles on the year.
As a sophomore in 2016, things were no different. With Lawson back and fully healthy, and other young players showing out at defensive end as well (Holland and Marlon Davidson, namely), Cowart fell further down the depth chart. He totaled just six tackles again, and Auburn fans began to grow concerned about why the former blue-chipper wasn’t playing. When asked about it this year, Cowart was honest.
“Really, just am I going to take ownership or am I going to point the finger at somebody else -- is it this person or that person?” Cowart told Michael Casagrande of al.com. “In reality, it was just me. I didn’t have the I.Q. coming out. I was bigger and stronger than everybody. … I didn’t understand that at the time. I’m just thinking, you wake up, practice a little bit and it happened in the game. I didn’t know the preparation that it took to be good on Saturday and Sunday.”
Byron did stick around for another offseason, though he decided it was time to transfer out just weeks into the 2017 season. He had been moved inside to defensive tackle, but it was clear he was never going to see significant playing time for Coach Garner.
Cowart transferred back home to Hillsborough Community College for the remainder of 2017, citing the aforementioned lack of playing time and his mother’s health.
Maryland picked him up to help out their pass rush in 2018, and Cowart had the best season of his career, finally flashing some of that 5* pedigree. He finished the year with 38 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions.
Cowart went on to be drafted by the Patriots in the 5th round by the Patriots in the 2019 Draft, along with former Tiger Jarrett Stidham. Cowart has impressed in the preseason so far, showing off his skills with a sack against Marcus Mariotta.
I’m not sure who what offensive guard was for the Titans but that was brutal.
Cowart stands a good chance to make the Pats roster this year, and it would be great to see him live up to the talent he’s always had.