CLEMSON -- Video is a truth teller. Watching game film of his sophomore and freshman seasons, Da'Quan Bowers agonized over missed sacks and opportunities. Never again, he vowed. Never again would he operate at less than 100 percent. Never again did he want to hear about failing to reach his sky-scraping ceiling. No more selections from McDonald's late-night menu. No more short cuts. As the defensive end enters his junior year at Clemson, Bowers says he's matured and ready for a breakout season and to reach his lofty potential. "Looking back at last year and at my freshman year, I saw things I could have done and didn't do and I should have done on film," Bowers said. "It was a wakeup call. "I'm not trying to find the easy way out as much as I used to. ... I had a mindset that I didn't want to burn myself out so I'd cut corners and take plays off. The older I get, I realize that's not the way; the best way is to go all out." The Bamberg native has yet to live up to the lofty rankings that followed him to campus, including being tabbed ESPN's No. 1 overall recruit in 2008. In 955 snaps at Clemson, Bowers has four sacks. By the time Julius Peppers was a junior at North Carolina, he had 21 quarterback sacks, including a nation-best 15 as a sophomore. Former Boston College standout Mathias Kiwanuka had 11¬½ sacks as sophomore. Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan had more sacks as a sophomore than Bowers has produced in two seasons. Bowers was affected by a knee injury last year as his weight ballooned to 293 pounds prior to the bowl game, robbing him of agility and quickness. While he's developed into a stout run defender, he knows sacks are the home run numbers for defensive ends. As extra motivation, he's eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft, and some analysts are projecting him as a first-round pick. Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele compared Bowers' ability last year to that of a 19-year-old Reggie White, and Steele remains high on Bowers. "Da'Quan is one of those guys who has been given a gift," Steele said. "In most cases when he went out and played against somebody, he physically was dominant, but he didn't have to be every down because of the ability. As he's gone up the food chain, that person lined up against him has become more and more frequently a pretty dominating player themselves. He has to play to his ability." To clear his head, Bowers got away from football after spring practice. The 6-foot-4 junior dropped his weight to 272 pounds, thanks in part to better eating habits. Steele maintains Bowers is a hard worker and coachable, and that it's just a maturation process, a matter of finding "the next gear." It's not too late for Bowers to blossom into a star at Clemson. Charleston native Courtney Brown registered 24¬½ of his 33 career college sacks during his junior and senior years at Penn State. Gaines Adams had his breakout year as a junior at Clemson, recording 9¬½ sacks. There's still time for Bowers to match such comparisons, but the clock on opportunity is ticking. "It's one thing to be talked about on paper," Bowers said. "It's another to prove it, and I haven't done that yet."