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Thursday, May 16, 2013
All even as McDowell pushes decision back

By Kipp Adams

The football program at Locust Grove High School started in 2009 with a freelance Class AAA schedule, then continued to play in AAA for two more years before making the move to AAAA in 2012. Heading into last fall, the Wildcats had a record of 6-19, having won two games each season. For rising junior Cortez McDowell, it was time to help the fledgling program take the next step.

“My main goal was to help my football team since we have not done well the last two years, so my mindset was to help my team win more than two games,” McDowell said.

The 6-foot, 200-pound prospect was a major part in his program doubling its win total in one season, recording 60 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 10 passes broken up, two interceptions, forcing two fumbles, recovering one fumble on defense while rushing 25 times for 209 yards and three touchdowns and catching 29 passes for 679 yards and eight touchdowns on offense. He took a leadership role on defense, and whenever the team needed a big play on offense, McDowell was there.

Syracuse and NC State had already offered him during the spring of his sophomore year, and after his junior season, scholarships started pouring in. This spring, McDowell has visited Florida State, Tennessee, Georgia, Georgia Tech, South Carolina and North Carolina. While most visits were similar, a few of the trips left an impression on the talented athlete.

“I know when I went to Florida State and Tennessee, they told us about how the new dorms would be behind the football field,” McDowell said. “At Tennessee they also have a whole section just for parents to sit right behind the end zone. It is special to know your parents can be right behind you when you are playing.”

Cortez McDowell
Cortez McDonald expected to be committed by now but has decided to prolong his recruitment.
McDowell felt he would be ready to make a decision this spring. But now the priorities and timeline have changed.

“I was going to commit during the spring, but I have decided to try and wait until next year so I can get all of my visits in,” McDowell said. “I am going to try and hold out until signing day, but I could make it as soon as after my senior season.”

McDowell has not eliminated any teams and doesn't claim a leader, but he did list three programs that have made a solid early impression.

“Tennessee, Florida State and Vandy have impressed me so far,” McDowell. “The graduation rate at Vanderbilt is great. They have proven to have a good academic programs and every year double digit guys graduate. Florida State is pretty much right there in academics, and this year they put guys into the league. They had 11 guys in the draft, so that tells me they are coming in and being developed and prepared for the NFL. At Tennessee they are going to work them and get them NFL ready as well.”

According to McDowell, Vanderbilt is recruiting him the hardest and that he talks to a staff member there almost every other day. While no schools have earned definite official visits from him yet, some programs could get the talented defensive back on campus this summer.

“I am definitely taking a trip up north to Ohio State, Michigan State; I am taking one to Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Miami ... just some schools that I have not been to yet.”

One school that is not forgotten with McDowell is Georgia. The Bulldogs hope to sign two safeties in 2014, and are very much a factor for McDowell.

“I am still high on Georgia just because of the fact that Mark Richt was the first head coach to offer me in person,” McDowell said. “That is special because he had a million other things he could be doing, but he took the time to give me a scholarship offer. My contact with them has been consistent. My team is going to their 7-on-7 tournament the first week of June and I plan to visit them again a few days later.”

Another SEC program is hoping to impress McDowell later this month.

Auburn will host over two dozen top prospects from all over the country for its Big Cat Weekend over Memorial Day Weekend, May 24-26. McDowell plans to be in attendance, and he admits he has already heard great things about the Tigers from two familiar names to Auburn fans.

“My receivers coach Karsten Bailey and offensive coordinator Ronny Daniels both played there and they speak highly of Dameyune Craig, who is recruiting me for Auburn,” McDowell said.

Baseball is also a factor for McDowell. He is hitting .365 with two triples, five doubles, 23 runs scored and 17 RBI through 15 games. The team is now in the third round of the playoffs and McDowell, who plays center field, hopes it becomes an option at the next level as well.

“If I can play baseball in college I will,” McDowell said. “Vanderbilt and Florida State have told me to come meet their baseball coaches and develop a relationship with them as well.”