RIP “Simba”

Who Was He

Bryce “Simba” Gowdy is a 6-2, 207-pound Wide Receiver from Deerfield Beach, FL. Gowdy, a highly-touted class of 2020 wide receiver prospect in high school, signed with Georgia Tech during college football’s Early Signing Period. He also had scholarship offers from programs like Florida, Florida State, Auburn and Georgia. Gowdy was a 247Sports Composite four-star recruit in the 2020 class and the No. 54 wide receiver in the country.

Gowdy was packed and ready to go to Atlanta before the incident, according to one family member, who motioned to what appeared to be three gym bags. But Gowdy’s uncle said the young wide receiver was nervous about leaving the family. “He was a little stressed having the weight of the world on his shoulders by going [to a Division I school], and having to leave his two younger brothers and his family in an unstable environment,” Thomas Gowdy (Bryce’s Uncle) said. The family had financial struggles and it was rough for Bryce growing up. (Lichtenstein and Baintinger, 2019)

What Happened

Bryce Gowdy, 17, died on New Year’s Day after being hit by a freight train. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, authorities arrived on the scene shortly after 4 a.m. and transported the teen to the hospital where he later died.  Gowdy’s death comes just one week before he was to officially join the team after finishing one semester early. His death has been ruled a suicide.  (Sims, 2020)

How Players are Ranked

It takes much effort for a student football player to receive the kind of recognition that is required to glean the attention of top recruiters.  In an article about just that, the following was stated:

Our ranking system is based on composite college football team rankings from, and

If you want to give it a shot, here’s what it takes:

  1. You’ll need football skill: This covers your positional technique and your general playing performance.
  2. You’ll need media information: All your stats and videos needed to assess you as a player need to be easily accessible to coaches. This makes it easy for them to quickly judge whether or not they want you on their team.
  3. You’ll need to have your academics in line: Make sure your GPA is up to par, your ACT or SAT scores are in, and that you have everything in place so you can be NCAA eligible.
  4. Extra-curricular and “intangibles” don’t hurt: These are your extra off the field activities and on-field characteristics that make you attractive to coaches and set you apart from the upward of 50,000 other players out there.
  5. Your mentality: Your Football IQ, work ethic and how quickly you can grow as a player will definitely make a difference when a coach comes judging about your collegiate future.
  6. The honors, stats, and awards to your name: Recognition for the football player you are now can definitely make a difference in how quickly or how you best get recognized for your efforts. An All-State Award, for example, can help you stand out. (Athnet 2020)

What They Do Not Look At

In short, they need your stats, they need film, they need your grades, they need to know everything you do outside of football that would qualify as an extra curricular activity, they need to wrap their head around your work ethic and how quickly you can grow as a player – all this, but the information which had to have been readily available about the status of his family and home life what?…escaped them?

This poor young man had the world being laid at his feet if you believe the magnitude of opportunity afforded to him as a result of receiving a scholarship to Georgia Tech.  The world was his oyster.  Problem was, he was overwhelmed with guilt at the prospect of leaving behind his family.  Clearly, in his mind, the negative weighed much more heavily than the positive – and that was the pass he could not carry.

What haunts me is that NO ONE involved in the recruiting process saw this?  No one picked up on the stress this kid felt for his family and recognized that there was more going on than simply plucking a talented high school football player out of Florida to help them build a team? 

I love watching college football – I can’t deny that.  But when did we stop caring about the players as people and look only at what they can do for their team, their schools and the ratings? 

Love the person! 

Everyone wanted Bryce to catch a ball; to excite the fans when he scored a touchdown.  Instead, he caught the express train to heaven foregoing all that was offered to him; the honor of being someone else’s idol – or more realistically, someone else’s asset. 

RIP Bryce.  I’m truly sorry the system (or lack of it) failed you.  Perhaps now someone will look at the whole person before we turn the next recruit into an acquisition used for our entertainment.  To all those younger children who hope to be given the same opportunity – there but for the grace of God……


AJC, Atlanta News Now, retrieved from the world wide web on January 2, 2020 from

Adam Lichtenstein & Brooke Baintinger, South Florida Sun Sentinel, December 31, 2019 retrieved from the world wide web on January 2, 2020 from

Sims, Megan, January 1, 2020 retrieved from the world wide web on January 2, 2020 from

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