UNI WR Owens Growing Into Position Change

By Jake Bemis, Reporter

In this Sept. 1, 2012, file photo, Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis catches a pass as Northern Iowa's Varmah Sonie and Zach Cutkomp (23) defend during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Madison, Wis. Now clearly regarded as the No. 1 receiver for 13th-ranked Wisconsin, it wasn't so long ago that Abbrederis was playing quarterback on the scout team. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

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By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa wide receiver Chad Owens and quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen have more in common than just playing catch for the Panthers.

In high school, Owens was a second-team all-state as a quarterback at Waukee. After graduating, he moved to wide receiver.

“I took the year off and just worked on my receiving skills,” he said. “I just learned from the older guys, whether it just be running routes or in the film room. I made myself better because I’ve never played receiver.”

Three years later, the red-shirt sophomore finally caught his first touchdown pass last Saturday at Wisconsin. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The touchdown cut the Badgers’ lead to 19-7 and sparked a second-half rally that almost led to UNI’s first win over a FBS opponent in five years.

“My route was a slant,” Owens said. “I saw they were playing man on me. I just went right into (the defender) and made a move. Sawyer threw a nice ball.

“It was something I’ll never forget. Everyone was pretty excited and focused at the same time.”

A business management major, Owens finished the game with three receptions for 20 yards. He had just five catches for 90 yards and one rushing touchdown all of last season.

“It’s a little weird to have a rushing touchdown first, but it was nice to get that first receiving touchdown,” he said.

Owens said the focus at UNI is not on last Saturday’s near-miss, but this Saturday’s opponent, Division II Central State University. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

“We just take every game as an important game,” he said. “It’s the first one at home and we’re just going to come out the same way we came out against Wisconsin. We’re not going to take this time lightly, and hopefully get a (win).”
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