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Kyle Whittingham confirms Ute linebacker Manny Bowen retires to 'pursue a business opportunity'

Linebacker Manny Bowen chats with teammates during a University of Utah football practice at the Eccles Football Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.
Linebacker Manny Bowen chats with teammates during a University of Utah football practice at the Eccles Football Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah linebacker Manny Bowen, a highly touted graduate transfer from Penn State, has decided to step away from football.

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham confirmed after the first day of fall camp that Bowen has decided to retire from football to pursue a business opportunity.

"Unfortunately, a couple days ago, Manny informed us that he is retiring from football. He's got a business opportunity that he felt was too good to pass up and the opportunity was for right now," Whittingham said. "He is exiting football and starting a business career. We wish him the best, hate to see him go. We were excited about what he was going to bring to the table this season."

Bowen's decision came out of the blue for the program.

"It surprised us completely, because there was no hint or anything out of the ordinary all through summer. All of the sudden, it just came up," Whittingham said.

Bowen, who made 134 tackles over 35 games at Penn State, participated in spring ball and was projected to join BYU transfer Francis Bernard as one of Utah’s starting linebackers this season. Sophomore Devin Lloyd is likely to fill the void. Stanford transfer Sione Lund, a sophomore, is the other linebacker on Utah’s pre-fall two-deep depth chart.

"We just move forward. We've got some really good players in the program — Trennan Carlson, Devin Lloyd, Sione Lund. We've got plenty of good bodies in the program. If he was going to hang up the spikes, it's better to do it right now so we can start investing the reps in the other guys," Whittingham said.

Ute linebackers coach Colton Swan echoed Whittingham's comments of "moving forward."

"I think the main thing that you do is move forward. You don't have any other choice (than) to do that. You keep postive, energy's up and keep pressing forward. The guys that I've got are great players, they've got to step up. When they go down, the rifle's laying there, they've got to pick it up and run with it. That's kind of the case at the linebacker position," Swan said.

Swan likes what he saw from the linebacker position in the first day of camp.

"It was a great first day. I'm excited about Francis Bernard being back, I'm excited about Devin Lloyd. I know both those guys are huge talents and some of those other guys that are in the room gotta step up," Swan said.

Last week at Pac-12 Media Day, Whittingham noted that Bernard and Bowen would give the Utes “a chance to be pretty good” at linebacker again despite the graduation losses of Cody Barton and Chase Hansen. Whittingham also praised the development of Lloyd, who has been in the program for three years.

“We've got a good nucleus to start with at that linebacker spot,” Whittingham said. “It will be critical to develop two or three more guys, young guys, as we go through fall camp to give us some depth there."

In other news from camp, Whittingham said the 'goal and objective' is to have Britain Covey back by the BYU game, but they are giving him limited reps in fall camp. The junior wide receiver is working back to full-go after tearing the ACL and meniscus in his right knee during the Pac-12 championship game last November.

"That's the goal and that's the objective. He's on a pitch count now," Whittingham said.

Contributing: Joe Coles contributed to this story.