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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Top safety target plans to hit road

By Radi Nabulsi

Cortez McDowell’s extensive offer list has grown yet again. Tennessee and Kentucky are the two most recent entrants into the race for the signature of the Locust Grove (Ga.) High School safety. Programs such as Alabama, Florida State and Georgia are among the 13 schools that have already extended scholarship offers to the 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior.

To help make sense of all the opportunities and figure out a favorite, McDowell is hitting the road.

“I will be going to Tennessee this weekend and North Carolina next weekend,” McDowell said. “I will be visiting some junior days and then I will get ready for baseball.”

McDowell compares roaming the outfield to roaming the secondary on the gridiron. His talent on the latter has led to offers from half of the SEC programs.

“Playing in the SEC would be big since that is the biggest conference,” McDowell said. “They have won the last seven national championships so it would be good to play in the SEC.”

The SEC champion Crimson Tide made quite an impression on McDowell when they offered on a recent visit.

“I felt like the big man on my high school campus,” McDowell said. “When I got home from Alabama I had to sit down on my couch and think about it. Alabama has just given me a scholarship. I was at a loss for words. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was just trying to get a hold of everything because I was so lost. It was crazy.”

The offer from the Seminoles was just as big but with better timing.

“When Florida State offered I talked to four coaches,” McDowell said. “I talked to Coach [Charles] Kelley, Coach [Jimbo] Fisher, Coach [Billy] Napier and Coach [Odell] Haggins. Florida State was a big offer because I had gone down there a couple of times and fell in love with the campus. It was kind of cool getting the offer that day because a kid at school asked me if I had an offer from Florida State. I told him, ‘Not yet, but I hope I get one soon.’ And as soon as I said it -- an hour and a half later -- I got the offer.”

McDowell plans to narrow his list down in the summer after baseball season. He hopes to make a few spring practices and at least on scrimmage.

“I think for Georgia, I am going up for the spring game,” McDowell said. “I hear from Coach [Scott] Lakatos every week. We talk about different coverages and where he could possible see me fitting in and what he would like for me to do if I went there. He tells me what I could do for the defensive backfield. He sees me more as a strong safety. I like to be in the box so I think strong safety is where I want to be anyway.”

Georgia Tech, Tennessee and Vanderbilt have been recruiting McDowell the hardest in recent weeks.

“I am talking to the defensive coordinators and my position coaches at Tennessee and Vanderbilt pretty hard,” McDowell said. “I probably speak to each school’s coaches twice a week. They are trying to build these relationships fast before other schools come in and build them.”