Running back Rico Dowdle was told by South Carolina’s staff to arrive in Columbia ready to play.
The former A.C. Reynolds High star took those words to heart. Dowdle said he worked out six days a week this spring in order to be ready to help the Gamecocks’ offense as a true freshman.
“There were no days off besides Sunday, just trying to get ready and be in shape and get stronger because I know I’m going to be playing in the SEC,” Dowdle said. “You’ve got to make every day count.”
Dowdle was named a first-team Parade All-American as an athlete this past season after playing quarterback his senior year of high school and rushing for 2,545 yards and 51 touchdowns and passing for 1,434 yards and 11 scores. He also caught a touchdown pass.
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Dowdle played running back in the Shrine Bowl, while also lining up at slot receiver. He rushed three times for 19 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for 48 yards and a score, helping North Carolina to a win over South Carolina.
He views himself as an every-down back who can be a difference maker, and his high school coach, Shane Laws, agrees.
“We’ve been fortunate and we’ve had some good players here to go a lot of different places, but he’s the best,” Laws said. “In my opinion, he could play for anybody in the country, no doubt.”
Dowdle grew up in Gaffney, but moved to Asheville in eighth grade. It didn’t take him long to make a favorable impression on the coaching staff at A.C. Reynolds.
“He was definitely ahead of the other guys in his class athletically,” Laws said. “He played some varsity football at the end of his freshman year as he progressed and learned what we were doing. I think the biggest thing for him was learning a complete new system. Everything was different. He was transitioning to a new school and a new area. But once he got comfortable, we were able to see the things he was capable of. We knew then this kid’s not like a lot of them.”
Dowdle grew up a South Carolina fan, but wasn’t offered by the Gamecocks until late in the recruiting process. Still, he committed to USC shortly thereafter because he knew it was the school he wanted to attend all along.
“I know it’s a great place to be down there at Willy B,” he said. “I know it’s a place for a great education to come out of there and get a good job. A bunch of great players played at the university, Marcus Lattimore, players like that, Jadeveon Clowney.”