Football is family.
Teammates share a special bond — a bond that people outside the locker room cannot begin to fathom.
For senior tight end Trent Cowan, Idaho — and football — is in his blood.
Donning the silver and gold is a family affair for Cowan. His brother, Bobby Cowan, spent time at Idaho as a punter and set the record for career punting yards with 11,570.
“In my first year, he was helping (Austin) Rehkow out with punting,” Trent said. “So, my first year on campus, he was here and I definitely think he helped me with that transition. I really leaned on him.”
Trent’s brother is not his only Vandal relative. His parents, aunts, uncles and cousins all found their way to Moscow. He watched Bobby play for Idaho growing up, which made his decision to attend easier.
“It definitely made me want to put on the Vandal uniform,” he said.
Trent played wide receiver at Camas High School in Washington. His thinner build meant he spent most of his time on the outside catching passes instead of blocking.
After strength training at Idaho, Trent gained enough mass to transition to tight end. He said his training increased his strength without compromising his speed.
During his freshman campaign, Trent caught a glimpse of his future as a Vandal with two receptions for 40 yards.
As a sophomore, he saw limited action as a receiver, but recorded tackles on the special teams unit.
It wasn’t until 2015 that Trent began to show off his talents. He caught 48 passes for 624 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 13 yards a catch.
Trent said his junior year was special, thanks to one moment.
Down 13-7, Idaho was trying to reach the end zone before the half against Louisiana-Monroe. On second down, then sophomore quarterback Matt Linehan threw a bomb 36 yards to the end of the field. Trent was there to haul it in for a touchdown, putting the Vandals up 13-10 with seven seconds left.
“Scoring that touchdown right before the half, I’ll probably always remember that,” Trent said.
The season left Trent with a rising career and a new friend in Linehan.
“We are really good buddies,” Trent said. “He trusts me and I really trust him. I think it helps having that chemistry on the football field, and it’s nice after a game and after a win just hanging out.”
The chemistry is evident this year. In 11 games, Trent caught 43 balls from Linehan for 517 yards and five touchdowns.
“We’ve really gone through the grind together,” Linehan said. “We’ve done everything together for the last couple years.”
Trent said his career success is helped in part by the relationships forged with coaches.
“I feel I’ve got to owe a lot of my success to my coaches,” he said. “They have really helped me better myself with my technique and just growing stronger and faster.”
Idaho head coach Paul Petrino is one of Trent’s mentors.
“There’s a lot of trust between Petrino and I. He’s really a great guy and a great coach,” Trent said. “What he has done for the Idaho program, you can’t really put into words. The job that he has done is second to none. Honestly, I don’t know if another coach could do it.”
Petrino said he will miss Trent and the dynamic he has created with fellow senior tight end Deon Watson.
“They’re both really talented kids and we use them in a lot of different ways,” Petrino said. “As the years went on, more and more people tried to double Trent.”
When it comes to locker room inspiration, Trent keeps to himself. He describes himself as shy, not looking for the spotlight.
He said he leaves the inspirational speeches to the other team leaders, like Linehan and senior defensive lineman Tueni Lupeamanu.
Trent said he has an added responsibility this year — helping the younger tight ends that will start next year.
Trent has set his sights on the National Football League. Trent said he wishes to get a call from an NFL team, preferably the Arizona Cardinals.
Until then, Trent is focused on helping the team practice for the upcoming bowl game, he said.
“My favorite memory as a Vandal hasn’t happened yet, because it’s going to be that bowl game,” Trent said. “What I’m going to miss most is being around all the guys. The football players, athletes from other sports and just the people of Moscow.”
Brandon Hill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill