Student Athlete of the Week: Picayune Football’s Dante Dowdell

Striking while the iron’s hot for this week’s WXXV Student Athlete of the Week and there may not be a Mississippi High School football player hotter right now than Picayune’s Dante Dowdell, who was just announced today as the 2021 MaxPreps Player of the Year for Mississippi.

That being just one of several accomplishments for the junior running back over the last five days. On Saturday, Dowdell helped the Maroon Tide win the 5A state title and was named game MVP.

The very next day, Dowdell received his first division I offer from Southern Miss. All of these accolades coming from years of dedication to the sport and Dowdell waiting patiently to be handed the reigns.

“I always knew that when I finally got that opportunity, I would do something special. And now the hard work paid off and I’m showing everybody what I can do. Living up to the hype, you know.”

In just his first season as the Maroon Tide’s starting running back, Dante Dowdell was only 58 yards shy of becoming the third Picayune running back to lead the state in rushing in the last four years, following in the footsteps of Jortin Rayne in 2018 and Cameron Thomas in 2019. “It’s kinda like we breed running backs. Everybody waits their turn. Some people play defense early in their career and they end up getting the starting position later.”

The 6’2”, 205 rusher models his play after Tennessee Titans running back and former Heisman Trophy Winner Derrick Henry. “He’s my favorite player I try to emulate him. From wearing down defenses to using the stiff arm, wearing number two. I just really look up to him.”

Head Coach Cody Stogner said, “He’s always bringing up Derrick Henry. And so, we kinda use it as a joke around him when Dante does have a bad play or bad day or something like that, we ask him if that’s what Derrick Henry would do.”

After capping off his junior campaign with 2,554 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns en route to the program’s first state championship since 2013, Dowdell has already set a goal for 3,000 yards on the ground next season while Coach Stogner hopes to improve a different aspect of Dowdell’s game. “We’d like to try and use him a little more in the passing game. So just get out here and catch a lot of footballs. Just work on his skill.”

In January, Dowdell plans on attending the All-American National Combine in hopes of being selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl his senior year and catching the eye of more college scouts. “Just do what I can do to get these offers flowing in. Hopefully I can open up the door for a lot of our players here and put us on the map. Not just myself.”

Coach Stogner said, “He’s a true definition of a student athlete. It’s one of a lot of things we preach here. If you had a picture of student athlete in the dictionary he’s be up in there.”

To nominate someone you believe deserves to be featured as News 25’s Student Athlete of the Week, please reach out to Grace Boyles through email (, Facebook (@GraceBBoyles), and Twitter (@GraceBBoyles).

Nominees can participate in any sport and be any age. Make sure to tune in every Wednesday to see which local athlete we spotlight next.

Categories: Student Athlete of the Week