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Sunday, January 19, 2014
FSU makes move for No. 5 DT McDowell

By Jared Shanker

Malik McDowell's recruitment was stagnant for much of the fall as the ESPN 300 defensive tackle from Southfield (Mich.) High put his college decision on the backburner. But now with signing day less than three weeks away, McDowell’s recruitment is beginning to take shape.

The 60th-ranked player nationally, McDowell is coming off an official visit to Florida State. The visit, his first to the Tallahassee campus, has the Noles squarely in contention for McDowell, according to his father, Greg.

“I talked to him [on the phone Saturday] and from our conversation he’s having a good time down there,” Greg said. “He’s real comfortable there and he has a great feeling about having an opportunity there.”

Malik McDowell
Malik McDowell, a top DL prospect from Michigan, has the Spartans and Wolverines among his finalists, but FSU is making a push.
McDowell, naturally, has mostly been linked with Michigan and Michigan State, but the Seminoles have been in contact with McDowell for more than a year. The interest on Florida State’s part has always been there, and McDowell began reciprocating the attention a few months ago.

“He’s getting to meet some of the players and talking with the coaches and seeing the campus, and they went on a tour of the academic facilities and weight room,” Greg said. “He got to see the whole atmosphere and the environment himself.”

Jimbo Fisher and assistants Odell Haggins and Tim Brewster are all recruiting McDowell, and Haggins and Brewster will be in Michigan this week for an in-home visit with the state’s second-ranked recruit.

Greg said he is not sure which other teams will make an in-home visit but believes Ohio State will be in his home this week as well. Ohio State, LSU and Michigan State are competing for the final two official visits. As of now, LSU is slated to receive a visit Jan. 24, and the Buckeyes will get the final visit Jan. 31. However, Greg said there is a chance McDowell, No. 5 among defensive tackles, will cancel one of those visits and replace it with Michigan State.

Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi made an in-home visit with the McDowells on Jan. 16, and it went a long way in alleviating concerns McDowell’s parents had with the Michigan State program. Greg said Narduzzi was able to clear up a few issues -- perceived or real, Greg said -- and the Spartans are now in much better standing with McDowell, who might be favoring Michigan State.

“My son likes Coach Narduzzi and the coaches at Michigan State, but it’s always been University of Michigan first with me,” Greg said. “But Narduzzi was up front about everything and what to expect and how they treat their players and how they stay on top of them [academically]. I’m going to let everyone know academics are what’s first for me, and he ensured that’s something they pride themselves on.

“There were definitely academics concerns through hearsay -- maybe it wasn’t true or maybe it was -- that a lot of players don’t graduate or don’t put the effort in in the classroom and for any parent that’s a concern. I want to know the coaches are not looking at my son or any kid as just a football player, and [Narduzzi] cleared that up.”

Alabama and Florida already hosted McDowell for official visits, and those two join Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State as McDowell’s final seven schools. A decision is not expected until February.