The football program at Locust Grove High School started in 2009 with a freelance Class AAA schedule, then continued to play in AAA for two more years before making the move to AAAA in 2012. Heading into last fall, the Wildcats had a record of 6-19, having won two games each season. For rising junior Cortez McDowell, it was time to help the fledgling program take the next step.
“My main goal was to help my football team since we have not done well the last two years, so my mindset was to help my team win more than two games,” McDowell said.
The 6-foot, 200-pound prospect was a major part in his program doubling its win total in one season, recording 60 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 10 passes broken up, two interceptions, forcing two fumbles, recovering one fumble on defense while rushing 25 times for 209 yards and three touchdowns and catching 29 passes for 679 yards and eight touchdowns on offense. He took a leadership role on defense, and whenever the team needed a big play on offense, McDowell was there.
Syracuse and NC State had already offered him during the spring of his sophomore year, and after his junior season, scholarships started pouring in. This spring, McDowell has visited Florida State, Tennessee, Georgia, Georgia Tech, South Carolina and North Carolina. While most visits were similar, a few of the trips left an impression on the talented athlete.