GFL Player Spotlight: How Saarland Hurricanes QB Robby Rowell went from college backup to GFL star

In week four of the German Football League this year, a quarterback by the name of Robby Rowell made his professional debut for the Saarland Hurricanes just three days after landing in Germany. He made an instant impact, asserting himself as one of the most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks in Europe.

His debut saw him rack up 287 total yards with five touchdowns, helping his team to a 31-13 win over the Munich Cowboys. Rowell would go on to find himself in the top five for both rushing and passing touchdowns and yards, going for 2,538 yards and 31 scores through the air alongside 791 yards and a league-leading 10 touchdowns on the ground through his nine appearances.

Saarland’s week 13 win over the Ingolstadt Dukes was one of his strongest performances, seeing the 6’2, 200 pound Californian complete 20 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns, on top of 167 yards and another three scores rushing.

Prior to playing football in Europe, Rowell spent four years as a California Golden Bear, backing up the likes of Chase Garbers (formerly of Las Vegas Raiders). Although he barely saw the field, completing just two passes, Rowell clearly gained valuable experience and was an academic standout, earning a spot on the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll with the second-highest fall semester GPA of the team.

Chase Garbers (Left), Zach Johnson (Middle), Robby Rowell (Right)

After his collegiate career came to a close, Rowell made the decision to further his academics while playing football, making the move to the University of Nottingham, where he became an instant star. While picking up his master’s degree, he led his team to the BUCS Championship Game, where they fell one score short of a star-studded UWE Bullets side.

With the thought of hanging up the cleats looming in the back of his head, Rowell received a call from the Saarland Hurricanes and didn’t look back.

Robby Rowell sat down with us for a quick Q&A on his football journey.

AFI: What is your favorite football memory?

Rowell: I can’t give you anything in particular, but all my favorite memories of football have been just hanging with the guys. Whether it’s in the locker room, on a road trip, or on the practice field, the camaraderie is what keeps bringing me back.  

AFI: What was the process behind making the decision to go play for the University of Nottingham in the UK?

Rowell: When I got the chance to go play in the UK, I jumped at it. I’d backed up some awesome QBs in my four years at Cal, but I was excited at the chance to lead my own team while also being able to see the world and work on a grad degree.

AFI: What made you want to go play in Germany with the Hurricanes?

Rowell: After the UK season ended, I really wasn’t expecting to play this summer. I’d suffered a few injuries while in England, and hadn’t really made an effort to land with a team. In early June, however, I got a call from Hurricanes coach Jake Lawrence, and realized I still had the itch to play a few more games. I took back a pair of cleats that I’d gifted a teammate in Nottingham, flew to Frankfurt, and suited up against Munich three days later. It was awesome.

AFI: Whether it’s the culture or the game, what are the main differences you’ve noticed playing in the US to the UK and Germany?

Rowell: One of the first things I noticed when coming out here was the passion that guys have for the game. In the states, once you start college football, it starts to feel like a business pretty fast. I think the guys out here still have a love for football that’s missing in a lot of American players.

AFI: What goals do you aim to achieve while playing in Europe?

Rowell: I’ve been looking at this summer as playing with house money, so I never really made a true set of goals for myself. At the least, I want to help the Hurricanes make a deep playoff run.

AFI: Finally, how would you best describe your play style? Do you model your game after anyone in particular?

Rowell: I think bring a bit of an edge to the quarterback position. I play with toughness and enjoy running behind my pads in the open field. If anyone, I’d say I try to model my game after Josh Allen.

Sitting in third place in the GFL South with a 7-3 record, the Hurricanes will look to secure a playoff spot over their next two games before they head into the postseason with their eyes set on silverware.

A current student at Bournemouth University as well as a quarterback with eight years of playing experience. Brad's goal is to be a part of the growth of the game around the world through journalism and media.