X-factor Walsh a 'big piece of the puzzle' for Hogs
It wasn’t a play that showed up in the box score of …
Versatile playmaker Chase Lowery, who is expected to play as a defensive back for the Razorbacks next season, was a standout in all three phases for Frisco (Texas) High School.
Evan Stewart, a 6-0 wide receiver from Liberty (Texas) High School, is the top pass catcher in the class of 2022, according to ESPN.
He enters his senior year this fall with offers from the likes of Texas, Florida, Alabama, LSU and a collection of other Power 5 programs. For most of the night on Oct. 30, 2020, Stewart carved up Frisco High School’s secondary.
By halftime, he had already scored one of Liberty’s two touchdowns. He was feasting on Frisco defensive back Myles Mays, and Frisco Coach Jeff Harbert knew he had to make a change.
POSITION Defensive back
HEIGHT/WEIGHT 6-0, 180 pounds
AGE 18 (Birthdate March 26, 2003)
HOMETOWN Frisco, Texas
HIGH SCHOOL Frisco High School
NOTEWORTHY Played defensive back, wide receiver and kick/punt returner at Frisco High School and comes to the University of Arkansas as a consensus three-star recruit. … Lowery was the No. 74 overall prospect from the state of Texas for his class, per 247Sports.com. … He was named District 7-5A D-II MVP as a senior in 2020 when he caught 14 passes for 403 yards and 2 touchdowns while making 26 tackles and grabbing 4 interceptions on defense. … He helped lead Frisco to an 11-2 record as the school reached the third round of the state playoffs. … As a junior in 2019 Lowery amassed 709 yards and 7 touchdowns on 31 catches, adding 44 tackles and 4 interceptions on defense.
Enter defensive back Chase Lowery.
“That was it for Evan Stewart that night,” said Lowery, who went on to sign with the University of Arkansas.
In the second half, Lowery went everywhere Stewart went, jamming his routes, breaking up passes and single handedly turning the Liberty offense one-dimensional. Stewart caught only one more pass for 9 yards. Lowery came away with two interceptions.
“There was no question who the best player on the field was,” Harbert said. “It was Chase Lowery.”
Game-changing defensive back. Play-making wide receiver. Momentum-shifting kick returner. Lowery did it all at Frisco, playing a key part for the Fighting Raccoons in all three phases of the game. Last month, that same playmaker arrived on campus in Fayetteville, where he is expected to play as a defensive back.
But Lowery has never been confined to a single position or side of the ball, and in the the 6-0 cornerback, the Razorbacks have a player who can take over a game anywhere on the field.
“He’s an impact player whenever he’s on the field, wherever you put him,” Harbert said. “He can do anything you ask him. He’s kind of like Superman.”
Superhero athletic ability is something Lowery possessed early on, and he grew up playing a host of different sports from soccer to golf and baseball and track and field. On Frisco’s varsity basketball team, Lowery could be counted on as much for drilling three-pointers as he was for diving after loose balls.
“I played pretty much everything besides tennis,” he said.
Harbert recalls spotting Lowery on the practice field for the first time when he transferred to Frisco from Prestonwood Christian Academy. He was a few inches shorter and carried a little less muscle than today’s Division I prototypical cornerback, but he had a skill set as a defensive back and an acuity for learning coverage and identifying wrinkles in opposing offenses that stood above the rest.
“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this guy is a lot different than anybody we’ve encountered in my time at Frisco High,’” Harbert said.
The latter part — Lowery’s football IQ — is what he credits even more than his athleticism for his ability to read a situation and make plays that can shift a game on its axis, like the time against Reedy High School last fall when he scooped up a rolling punt with three defenders surrounding him at his own 30-yard line and managed to take it all the way to the goal line.
At Prestonwood, he learned to watch film from a pair of coaches with stints in NFL on their resumes in Omar Stoutmire and Scott Turner. They taught him what to look for in an offense before a snap and how to read a receivers’ body language to know what they’re going to before they do it.
When Lowery began watching film, the little things started coming easy to him.
“In football, what made me a game-changer was something that happened off the field — it was film,” Lowery said. “No matter who we’re playing, that week I just start focusing on my next opponent. Who I’m going against. I see what they do. You can learn a lot about a team from film.”
At Frisco, the study off the field translated onto it, in moments such as that second half last October when he muzzled Stewart, one of his longtime friends. Lowery had been watching him on tape all week.
Lowry’s awareness and athleticism has manifested big moments on all sides of the ball.
Later in that same game against Reedy, Lowery and Frisco found themselves trailing 31-27 in the game’s final minute, facing a fourth and 10 from their own 45-yard line. There was no doubt who the pivotal pass would go to.
“Just throw the ball up because Chase is going to have a shot,” Harbert said.
Lowery ran a deep fade route, and his quarterback sailed a looping pass toward him and a pair of Reedy defenders. When the ball arrived, Lowery launched himself above each of them and pulled in the ball at the 5-yard line with seconds remaining on the clock.
Frisco ran in the winning touchdown one play later.
“I went over two guys, got in there and brought it down,” Lowery said. “That put the nail in the coffin.”
Another crucial moment arrived in the second round of the state playoffs in a tight battle against South Oak Cliff. Trailing 17-16 following a South Oak Cliff score, Frisco’s season stood on the brink ahead of a kickoff with 16 seconds remaining.
“I was on the sidelines before the kick trying to hype everyone up,” Lowery said. “We’ve still got 16 seconds left. Anything can happen.”
For the first time all game, South Oak Cliff kicked to Lowery and he made them pay, finding a small hole to run through and burning several defenders before being tackled at the 9-yard line with five seconds on the clock. Set up by the kick return, freshman kicker Mason Stallons nailed the game-winning field goal as time expired.
“There’s one guy in blue you don’t kick it to in a moment like that,” Harbert said. “They kicked it to Chase, and I bet they’re still kicking themselves on that one.”
Whether he’s on defense, offense of special teams, there is a constant with Lowery on the football field: He makes plays. At Frisco, he was a game-changer. He hopes to do the same with the Razorbacks in Fayetteville.
“They’re going to get a versatile athlete who can make plays,” Lowery said. “Defense. Special teams. Even offense if they need me. Wherever I am, I’ll make plays.”
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