Due to all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, numerous college football players have opted out of the 2020 season. UCF cornerback Tay Gowan is part of that group, as he’s decided to officially declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Gowan had a sensational season with the Knights last fall, totaling 31 tackles and two interceptions. Though he’d love to play football this year, there are certain things that are just bigger than sports.
With the virus still causing issues in the United States, Gowan has decided to put his family’s health above everything else. He’s opting out of the 2020 season to make sure he keeps his young daughter safe during these times.
While that reason alone is more than enough to justify Gowan’s decision, it’s worth noting that he actually had to battle COVID-19 earlier this year.
Gowan sat down with The Spun to talk about his battle with the coronavirus, his NFL aspirations, if a spring season could work in college football and much more.
Let’s get this interview started.
The Spun: What was your coaching staff and teammates’ initial reaction to you opting out of the 2020 season?
Tay Gowan: They understood my situation and what was going on because last year – before camp – I missed a couple of days because I went to the hospital to see my daughter delivered, and then I had to stay there a few extra days because she was on an incubator. It was a very sensitive situation for me, but I still had to go back and perform in 2019. So, the coaching staff understood my situation this fall and where I was coming from. I told them my concerns about COVID-19 and how I had the virus already and didn’t want to put my daughter in a situation where she’d be in harm’s way. It was very tough on me to announce the news because I love football, and this is all I’ve been doing all my life. But I had to look myself in the mirror and put my daughter first. Overall though, my coaches and teammates respected my decision and showed me love.
THANK YOU GOD. THANK YOU KNIGHT NATION! pic.twitter.com/vVV3HIlP7F
— Tay Gowan (@focused_4) September 2, 2020
The Spun: You said you tested positive for COVID-19. How was it like going through that experience?
TG: I was in a situation where COVID-19 did affect me. It put me down for a couple of days. It opened my eyes because I really haven’t been sick in a long time.
The Spun: College football has officially begun. Do you personally think teams are in a position to keep their guys healthy throughout the season?
TG: I think it’s going to be tough, but they’ll find a way to play through the season. Certain players will still test positive for the virus, I truly believe that. I didn’t want to be one of those players. And the crazy part is it could be your fault, or it might be someone else’s.
The Spun: Do you think a spring season could work for college football?
TG: It’s going to be tough to have a spring season just off the fact that it’s never been done. Personally, I don’t think it’s a good idea though. Just stick with spring camp and allow student-athletes to get another year of eligibility.
Tay Gowan in 2019:
Coverage snaps: 425
Pass breakups: 7
TDs allowed: 2 pic.twitter.com/mAOxLBlj9n
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 1, 2020
The Spun: Your tape in 2019 was impressive. Since you won’t have tape for this season, how important do you think your performance at the NFL Combine will be?
TG: Oh, it’s going to be extremely important for me to perform at the NFL Combine and pro day. I need to show scouts that I’m sharp. I believe my 40-yard dash time is going to be very impressive because I’m blessed with speed. I also think scouts will like how long I am as well. But going back to your question, yes, it’s crucial that I perform well at the NFL Combine.
The Spun: Where do you think you belong in the 2021 cornerback class?
TG: I’m definitely in the top 10.
The Spun: What’s your favorite memory from your collegiate career?
TG: My first start in college football. Before coming out of the locker room, I prayed to God and just couldn’t believe how far I came. My mom wasn’t there, but I knew she was watching on TV. I actually got my first interception during that game. It boosted my confidence all the way up and allowed me to have a dominant season.
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) September 8, 2019
Gowan isn’t the only UCF player to opt out of this season. As of this moment, 10 players from the 2020 roster decided they won’t play football this year.
This won’t be the end for Gowan’s football career though, as he’s expected to be at the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine. Of course, that’s assuming there will be an NFL Combine next February – keep your fingers crossed that it happens.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.