IOWA CITY — B.J. Lowery is all athlete — fast, quick, strong and agile. Who would ever guess that the “B” in his first name is from the word “Boots?”
Lowery is a sophomore cornerback from where he calls the “Nasty Natti,” an endearing term for his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. His birth name is Fernando, named after his father. Boots is his father’s nickname.
And the J? That’s for Boots Junior.
“I’m thinking about changing it,” Lowery said of his first name Fernando.
Either way, Boots is ready to stomp after a broken left wrist required surgery and kept him off the field for two months. Lowery returned to action on Saturday, registering two unassisted tackles.
Lowery, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 185 pounds, said he “felt energized” to return and played with more intensity against Northwestern.
“It felt real good to be back,” Lowery said. “I’ve been real humble; it’s from the injury, I’ve been waiting my time.”
Last year as a true freshman he played in seven games and had four tackles.
In training camp, he competed for the starting cornerback spot opposite Shaun Prater. Now he’s playing nickelback and listed as a second-team corner behind Prater.
Lowery’s fellow defensive backs were impressed with his return. Hyde said the two ride with one another when they return to Ohio and Lowery was down initially when he was injured. Now, Hyde said Lowery makes the secondary much stronger, especially in five- and six-defensive back sets.
“He’s an athletic guy. He can go out there and cover,” Hyde said. “I think we have more corners like we did in the summer who can get down and cover guys.”
Lowery was used on the kickoff team where he recorded a solo tackle. On defense he later stopped Northwestern wide receiver Jeremy Ebert in the fourth quarter.
“We were down a couple of guys defensively that had been playing well, but the good news is we gained one with B.J.,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Hopefully in maybe two weeks here, two and a half weeks, he’ll have that cast off which would be nice.”
Lowery was a high school option quarterback by default — “hated it” — and nearly signed with Akron, the first school to offer him a scholarship. But a rival high school coach recognized his potential at defensive back and called Iowa secondary coach Phil Parker, who met with Lowery.
“Somehow he gave Phil Parker my film, and he came down to visit me and after that it just clicked,” Lowery said. “I appreciate him for that.”
Lowery’s fingertips peer out from his protective cast but he said he can still catch the ball if it comes his way.
“I can still grab,” he said. “I can catch with two hands.”What else would you expect from a man named Boots?