Roderick McDowell has heard the whispers for as long as he can remember. They have followed him since he began playing Pop Warner football seven or eight years ago.
His size has always come into question but ask anyone around and they would say that’s really not a factor in what the Sumter senior can do on the field.
But he still knows the questions are out there.
“I know I don’t have the size but my speed and agility make up for my lack of size,” McDowell said. “When I hit the holes, people will tell you that I bring the pain. So it doesn’t have to be all about size. I rely on my vision and speed to make people miss.”
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Those are the main reasons that McDowell is the highest rated running back in the 2009 class. He’s already verbally committed to Clemson, and he’s working to qualify academically but he said he will listen to anyone willing to talk with him.
“Right now working on my books and trying to get ready for our upcoming games,” McDowell said. “A lot of people want me to visit South Carolina but I’ll listen to everybody but I know where I’m at in what I want to do.”
McDowell’s speed is not in question since he finished second in the 100 and 200 at the Class 4A state track meet last year. His vision was on display Friday night against White Knoll in the Gamecocks 45-0 victory. Three times he was pinned up on the sideline and was able to reverse his field to gain yardage on plays that normally would have ended in a loss.
McDowell has 600 yards and eight touchdowns in four games on the season.
“He has the ability to see things that most backs don’t see,” Sumter coach Paul Sorrells said. “He might only gain a few yards when he reverses field like that but he’s also capable of taking it to the house if he can get around the corner. I don’t know if I’ve ever been around a kid that can just make me shake my head on the sideline. I’ll say to somebody that I know I didn’t just see that.”
The whispers have also said he can’t play running back at the Division I level. Sorrells said if he’s not one of the best backs on whichever team he signs with then he has little doubt that he can help somewhere else.
“Whenever he goes, if he’s not one of the best backs there, move him,” Sorrells said. “If there is somebody that he is better than at receiver it would be foolish to leave him on the bench as the fourth or fifth string back. Everybody that is recruiting him knows he can run good patterns and catch the ball. He just wants to play and I feel he can help any offense.”
While McDowell is willing to listen to any college recruiter, he said it would take something special to make him change his commitment with the Tigers.
“I have a good relationship with coach (Andre) Powell,” McDowell said. “I know for a fact that I’m going to get a chance at running back and maybe flanker.”