Even though he's listed atop the running back depth chart, McDowell is approaching his final preseason camp at Clemson like he's elsewhere in the pecking order.
"Everybody says that, but my mindset [is] I'm not the starter," he said. "I'm just going out there and having fun and competing."
McDowell certainly has earned the right to call the starting job his own. He had a breakout-type of 2012, scoring the Tigers' first touchdown of the season, en route to four more scores and a total of 450 yards rushing.
With the job already in his grasp once spring ball began, he didn't let go after putting together string of 15 spring practices.
That doesn't matter, not any more. It's all about the present.
"Last year is in the past. This year, I feel like I've just got to go out there and compete, I've got to go out there and make big runs, make big plays, establish [that] I'm that main guy," McDowell said.
There are four unproven, inexperienced guys trying to unseat him from that top spot -- D.J. Howard, Zac Brooks, Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman. The foursome has a total of 102 career carries.
"We're not trying to go out there and prove everybody wrong. Just because we don't have a big name here, it doesn't really matter" McDowell said. "Everybody goes in there and contributes, no matter what it is. We go in there and have fun. If coach calls Zac, D.J. or me, no matter who it is, we go in there and compete."
After summer skills work and two preseason camp practices, McDowell likes what he sees in the two freshmen.
"My running backs, one thing that I like about those two boys, Ty and Wayne, those boys compete," McDowell said. "They like to learn. They like to sit there and ask questions. They aren't afraid to ask questions. They'll ask two or three questions. After those boys learn what to do, they go in there have fun with it, compete."
He hopes that competition helps lead to some hardware once the season is all said and done.
"Our senior group…we're trying to win a championship, trying to win the ACC, trying to go to the top," McDowell said.
A quiet confidence
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