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'We preach toughness': Billy Bowens played through significant hand injury in 2022

Bowens recently had surgery after suffering a hand injury in week one against Oregon State. In a cast Wednesday he said, "when it's time to ball, it's time to ball."

BOISE, Idaho — Boise State senior wide receiver Billy Bowens recently decided to return to the City of Trees for a sixth season, along with seven other Bronco super seniors. 

Last fall, Bowens ranked second on the team in catches and receiving yards, with 32 and 462, respectively. The 6-1, 198-pound wideout also grabbed four touchdowns last fall, while averaging 14.4 yards per catch.

The breakout campaign was a welcoming sight for Bronco Nation on the heels of losing standout Khalil Shakir to the NFL ranks. What Bowens accomplishes in 2023 could be remarkable, considering he was playing through a significant injury the entire 2022 season. 

On Wednesday, Bowens had a cast on his right hand during an interview with local media. The Redlands, Calif., native said the injury recently required surgery. 

Bowens suffered the injury in Boise State's season opener against Oregon State after he "landed on it in an awkward way." He still went on to prove himself as a deep threat for rising quarterback Taylen Green. 

"It was just something that was there all year, but like I said, here – we preach toughness and grit, blue-collar, just-work mentality," Bowens said. "I knew it was something that was going to be annoying, but we had to push through it, we had bigger things to accomplish this year, bigger fish to fry, so just kind of taped it up, braced it up and did my prehab rehab when I could. But when it's time to ball, it's time to ball."

During the Broncos' back-to-back road games in freezing conditions against Nevada and Wyoming, Bowens registered eight catches for 144 yards and a pair of touchdowns. 

When Boise State's needed a spark, Bowens and fellow wideout Eric McAlister often stepped up for big plays down the field. Bowens had at least five catches of 30 yards or more in 2022. 

With redshirt sophomore Latrell Caples and senior Stefan Cobbs also back in the fold, Boise State's top four wideouts in receiving yards, catches and receiving touchdowns will return in 2023. 

Bowens said he decided to return to The Blue to handle "unfinished business" and reach untouched heights with Green through the air.

"Boise's been great to me. I'm super excited to be here, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. This is a great place," Bowens said. "I really enjoy the culture here, the staff, the players, you know, I've built an unbelievable bond and last year was probably one of the most fun seasons I've had. I wanted to play another year with Taylen. He was an amazing player and I feel like we had some unfinished business this year. So, I wanted to come back and capitalize on that."

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