Even though he could make a case for it, Adarius Bowman doesn't view his CFL career as a penalty.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers' new go-to receiver was billed as a surefire NFL draft pick in 2008, but a poor performances in front of the scouts and a marijuana possession bust just two weeks before the draft scuttled that.
Saskatchewan Roughriders GM Eric Tillman put Bowman on his neg list the night he was passed over in the NFL draft, and now the Chattanooga, Tenn., native is coming into his own north of the 49th with the Bombers.
"The thing about my past, I wouldn't change it," said Bowman, who was traded to Winnipeg in April. "I have people say, 'Would you change anything you did?' Nah, nah, nah. I enjoyed my college times. I got better every year.
"The thing I didn't do ... I made mistakes off the field. But I feel like that came along with growing."
Bowman, the CFL's reigning offensive player of the week, has become Michael Bishop's main target in Winnipeg. The 24-year-old leads the team with 779 receiving yards and six touchdowns, and he has at least one TD grab in his last four games.
Bowman will try to stretch his streak to five straight contests with a touchdown catch this Sunday afternoon when the Blue and Gold (6-8) host the B.C. Lions (7-7) in a critical clash at Canad Inns Stadium.
"I'm just comfortable right now, so I feel I can do whatever right now," he said. "We've got four more games and a playoff run, so I feel like there's a lot more I can do."
Bowman, a quarterback's dream at 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds, starred at Oklahoma State University in 2006 and 2007, hauling in 127 catches for 2,187 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was a semifinalist for the 2006 Biletnikoff Award as the NCAA's top receiver.
He got hurt late in his senior season, however, and then had poor performances in the Senior Bowl and later at Oklahoma State's senior day. The last-minute pot bust appeared to be the icing on the cake for NFL scouts.
"I made a few mistakes," said Bowman, who was dismissed from the University of North Carolina and its football team in 2004 after getting caught in a dorm room in which pot was present. "I feel like my mistakes are things that can be corrected. I ain't killed nobody, I ain't stole nothin' from nobody. But I did make a dumb decision.
"I've never told anyone I feel like I was right for what I did. I wasn't right. But I feel like it was blown out of proportion a little. But I can't change that. The thing I'm trying to do now is be more mature about things, watch the things I do to people I'm around."
Bowman believes he has the talent to suit up in the NFL. He is in his option year with the Bombers, which means he'll be a free agent north and south of the border early next year if he doesn't re-sign with Winnipeg.
"You could say being here (in the CFL) is paying for what I did, but I don't look at it like that, because from where I was at when I was coming out of college to where I'm at now, it's like a whole other scale," Bowman said.
"So I feel if I do get the opportunity to go back there (to the NFL), they won't even know the things I'm doing because I don't play the same way I played in college. I'm so much better.
"... If the opportunity's there, I'm ready. If not, I like where I'm at right now."