Cardinals CB Tay Gowan: It’s my turn to live up to the No. 32 legacy

May 10, 2021, 3:45 PM | Updated: 4:10 pm

UCF Knights defensive back Tay Gowan (23) looks on during the College football game between the UCF...

UCF Knights defensive back Tay Gowan (23) looks on during the College football game between the UCF Knights and the Pittsburgh Panthers on September 21, 2019 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals who donned No. 32 over the years have seen quite a bit of success.

The past two seasons, safety Budda Baker earned two Pro Bowl selections and an All-Pro nod. Before that, Tyrann Mathieu sported the number for five seasons and was named a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in 2015.

Going back a little further, running back Edgerrin James had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2006-07.

The number is changing hands once again, with rookie Tay Gowan taking over the mantle for Baker, who switched up his look for a third time in five seasons and is now rocking No. 3.

Gowan, who begins his Cardinals tenure with rookie minicamp this Friday, is hoping to follow in the footsteps of those before him.

“Actually 32 chose me. … I’m thankful for the number,” Gowan said Monday. “I’m gonna live up to the legacy. I know a lot of good players have put that number on, so it’s my turn.

“I think Arizona did that on purpose so now I gotta live up to it,” Gowan added while on with Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta.

Waiting until Day 3 of the NFL Draft to select a cornerback, the Cardinals took two in Gowan (sixth round) and Florida’s Marco Wilson (fourth round).

General manager Steve Keim felt the value was there, opting against burning an early round pick to help fill the hole left behind from Patrick Peterson’s departure to Minnesota this offseason.

“I think the Arizona Cardinals got two great DBs and we gonna live up to all the hype and, whatever circulation, we’re gonna live up to it,” Gowan said. “I fully believe in us to. I know we work and we’re great people.”

Gowan could have potentially gone earlier in the draft if he had not opted out of the 2020 season.

While he had flashed as a shutdown corner in his lone season with UCF, recording two interceptions and eight passes defensed in 2019, sitting out definitely played a factor in his draft stock falling.

There was more much pressing matters at hand than playing football.

After returning to UCF with the first group of starters last offseason, Gowan tested positive for COVID-19. Having to leave campus, he spread it to the rest of this family, including his daughter who was born premature.

“It hospitalized my mom, so now I have COVID, my daughter has COVID, my girl as COVID, my family has COVID. All because of me, all because I wanted to play football and pursue my dreams,” Gowan said.

“I didn’t have resources at the time, enough money to even make sure everybody’s OK. It was just a lot on me, just weighing down on me. … When it came down to it, I put family first.”

Though his decision to sit out was not due to injury or performance-based reasons — Gowan says he elevated his game to the next level while away from the field — the 6-foot-1, 186-pounder watched his name slide down the draft board.

He hasn’t sulked, though, and instead has formed an even bigger chip on his shoulder, something he’s grateful for.

“I’m so excited. I don’t think I’m ever going to leave the facility,” Gowan said. “I might stay there, to be honest with you. This is my life-long dream and I’m about to take full advantage of every opportunity and I wanna be one of the fan favorites to the Arizona Cardinals and in the community.

“I wanna be one of the guys people really look up to and can learn from and can get motivation from, advice. I wanna be all that for the Cardinals.”

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