Picayune running back Dante Dowdell commits to Oregon
Picayune running back Dante Dowdell has long modeled his game after former Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, who you might also know as King Henry.
Last season, Dowdell emerging as the new king of the recruitment castle with 25 division I offers in his bag since December, but only one of those fit for a king.
“I knew I was going to do a little something with the gloves. I didn’t know I was going to do Ole Miss, then take them off and do Oregon, but I had to play with it a little bit. I had to do a little.”
“They treated me like a king up there. They said King Dante to Eugene. The King to Eugene. So hey, I like that.”
What’s not to like about four-star running back Dante Dowdell, who pretty much had a blank check to the school of his dreams and lucky for Oregon, King Dante is a one school kind of guy. “I wanted to finally get that one school that I just wanted to build a relationship with. You’ve got all these offers; you talk to all of these schools. But then when it really comes down to it, you really don’t want to talk to all the schools all the time. So, it comes down to, you’ve got to make that decision. Some people wait all the way until December. I wanted to go ahead and get it over with, build up that relationship and focus on my season.”
Dowdell certainly did his due diligence leading up to decision day, having visited 17 different schools over the course of March and April alone. But all those miles, nothing new for the state’s third leading rushing in 2021, eclipsing 2,500 yards with 28 touchdowns en route to the Maroon Tide’s first 5A state championship since 2013.
The workhorse junior was named MVP of that 40-21 revenge victory over West Point in which he broke off 148 yards and two scores on 25 carries.
That performance earned him his first D1 offer the very next day and the rest is history. “Everybody is big on staying in the ‘Sip thing, and I was like, you’ve got to pave the way. I want to show kids that you can go far away. You don’t have to stay close to home to play football, so I want to be the first to do something different. They don’t really think down South kids will go that far and do different things. But Oregon has been a winning program. They’ve been to the national championship twice. They’ve just never gotten over that hump, and they probably need some kids from down South to get over that hump.”
Overall, six down South schools from the SEC in the hunt with Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Arkansas all making the final table. Oregon running backs Coach Carlos Locklyn proved to be a difference maker in the recruitment process, but the Rebels were a serious contender. “That was a big part of why I really liked Ole Miss, too, because Lane Kiffin coached Derrick. He was calling the plays in 2015 when he won a Heisman and a national championship and stuff. But when you’re actually getting recruited, you’re always going to like the school that you grew up liking, or your favorite player went to. But when it comes down to it, that may not be the school that you go to.”
Still an entire senior season ahead for the former News 25 Student Athlete of the Week and Mississippi Max Preps Player of the Year, having already gained ten pounds of muscle during the offseason as he begins his quest to bring his great stiff arm to the Great Northwest. “I’m looking to go for 3,000, 4,000 yards. It’s a lot of yards, but it’s what we’ve got to try to do.”
Dowdell is the state’s fourth ranked recruit for the class of 2023 according to EPSN and the seventh according to 24/7 Sports.