Inside the Monarchy
When Jack Lowney signed on to play football with the Old Dominion Monarchs, it didn’t take him long to figure out something magical was happening with this upstart program. Lowney signed with the Monarchs in February of 2009; that fall he watched ODU go 9-2 in its initial season.
It wasn’t just the record, though, that gave Lowney confidence in what was about to come. It was the manner in which everything was done.
“There was this business-like organization throughout the program,” Lowney said. “And it involved everything. It was easy to see very quickly that something special was going on here. And that first season set the tone and the standard.”
The planning, however, is what really caught his attention. Jack Lowney is a guy who likes a plan. He makes them for himself all the time, scribbling down in notebooks what the day holds, where he needs to be, when he needs to be there.
He didn’t plan, however, to have the kind of success he has had as a Monarch. He hoped for it, but just didn’t plan it.
When the Monarchs take the field Saturday for their final home game of the 2013 season, Lowney will have many duties on the day. He’s a captain, so it will be his job to walk to midfield for the coin flip. He’s the left tackle, so it will be his job to protect star quarterback Taylor Heinicke’s blind side.
And yet, there will be a third important job on his last time playing at S.B. Ballard Stadium at Foreman Field, and that will be to soak it all in.
“There’s work to be done,” Lowney said. “But I’m going to take a moment to reflect and enjoy it. You know, there’s something about Foreman Field. There’s an unseen vibe and energy to that place that makes 20,000 people seem more than that.
“We’ve played in bigger places in front of bigger crowds, but there’s just something about the place.”
There’s also something about Lowney. Overlooked by many when he was coming out of Archbishop Carroll in suburban Philadelphia, Lowney isn’t overlooked here at ODU.
“Maybe people though he was a shade too short, his arms weren’t long enough, he wasn’t big enough,” ODU coach Bobby Wilder said. “We liked the fact that he competed and he had some football smarts about him.”
Lowney is 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds. It probably isn’t big enough to play tackle in the NFL, but it’s been big enough at ODU for Lowney to have the squad’s most consecutive starts. Lowney will start his 42nd consecutive game on Saturday. It would have been more, most likely, except he hurt himself prior to the start of his red-shirt freshman season when he was caught in a sudden rainstorm on campus, started to run to escape it, and slipped on the wet pavement of the parking lot, injuring his foot.
He missed the first four games of that season, but played the last seven and started in the last five, which began his streak.
“I really had no idea how this would all turn out when I came to ODU,” Lowney said. “I was jumping into the deep end of the pool and hoping for the best.”
Now, Wilder and offensive coordinator Brian Scott realize there will be a big hole to fill at left tackle next season.
“Not only is he a really good athlete, but he’s a mentally tough football player and that’s what we were looking for at the time,” Wilder said. “We had nothing to compare recruits to. But we knew we needed tough guys and he’s that guy. He sets the tone for the team in the classroom, on the field, in the meeting room.
“You ask the others and they will tell you he’s the model of preparation. Those are the guys you are so fortunate to have and a lot of times within your organization you don’t realize how much you miss them until they’re no longer with you. And he’s one of those guys who all of the sudden will be gone and we’re going to be looking for that next Jack Lowney and recruiting with him in mind. Where is that guy who does everything Jack did?”
Timing being what it is, when Lowney broke into the starting lineup in 2010, the Monarchs went on a five-game winning streak to end the season. With Lowney in the starting lineup, ODU is 33-8.
“That’s a heck of a record,” Wilder said.
And yet, Lowney sounds like a young man ready for the next challenge.
“After the season, I’m going to move to New York City and try my hand in the insurance business,” said Lowney, a business management major. “I have some connections up there and I’m going to give it a go, put my best foot forward, and see what happens.”
Usually, for Jack Lowney, that’s a pretty good plan.