National Signing Day brought about some surprising decisions from some of the best high school players in the country, but none was more shocking than five-star defensive back Peyton Bowen.
The safety from John H. Guyer High School in Denton, Texas, signed with Oklahoma, which posted a video on their Twitter after he made the decision.
“Chosen for being an elite athlete and great competitor. Welcome to the Oklahoma family @PeytonBowen10!” the school’s football program wrote.
But that wasn’t the case initially for Bowen. First, it was the University of Notre Dame that Bowen had verbally committed to, per Yahoo! Sports.
On National Signing Day Wednesday, Bowen surprised everyone with the ol’ fake-hat trick, as he went to put on a Notre Dame cap before swapping it out for a University of Oregon one.
There was a catch, though: Oregon never received a signed national letter of intent from Bowen. Speculation started as the Ducks should have announced the signing.
Instead, Bowen admitted his decision to go to Oregon “was not the best path for me,” despite making that call with his parents next to him at the podium.
As for Notre Dame, he mentioned that his “heart was somewhere else.”
“As I reflect on yesterday’s whirlwind I recognize that I made some mistakes that I regret and will learn from. Navigating this process has been a rollercoaster,” Bowen wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
“Oregon and Notre Dame faithful, I am sorry for how I handled this process. Changing my decision on signing day, the hat pump fake, all of it could have been handled better. I can’t change what I did but this experience is something I will learn from.”
“Oklahoma has always felt like home to me. Reflecting, it seems as if I was looking for a reason to branch out and break away from home. But my relationships with Coach Venables, Coach Bates, Coach Valai, Coach Hall and Coach Chavis, along with my ties to friends and family locally ultimately led me back to where I always belonged.”
Bowen is ranked No. 14 overall by ESPN and No. 2 among safeties for the 2023 class. He is the highest-ranked defensive player to sign with Oklahoma since ESPN began ranking recruits in 2006.
Oklahoma now has the No. 7-ranked signing class in 2023, according to Rivals.