He spent most of the preseason camp stamping his name on the third running back spot before sustaining a concussion during Clemson's final intra-squad stadium scrimmage.
McDowell was in a green jersey during Friday afternoon's practice session after going through drills with a yellow on Thursday. He's not sure how soon he'll cleared for a full-go. At the earliest it's Saturday, if not then, he's looking at a full return sometime early next week.
"I'm feeling alright, getting treatment on it, feeling a little better. It's a step in the process. They're going to see how I feel every day," he said after Friday's practice. "Right now, I'm not rushing it. I'm taking everything step by step."
His memory of the injury is hazy, at best.
"All I know is when I look at the film, I caught the ball. I was going back and I got hit by another player from the back," McDowell said. "It's football. Stuff happens like that. It's no big deal."
Head coach Dabo Swinney thought otherwise after Thursday's practice. He said there's no need to rush McDowell back into a normal practice schedule.
"You can't mess around with those concussions. That's a serious thing," Swinney said. "We try to err on the real conservative side, especially with practice and rushing back into that. He's proven he can help us. Nothing wrong with him making sure he's 100 percent."
As scary as a first concussion can be, McDowell has full faith in the Tigers' staff of doctors.
"At the end of the day, that's why we have doctors and people here at Clemson to help us with all of this. All I can do is get treatment on it," he said.
But it's still frustrating for the redshirt freshman, who's itching to see the field.
"I feel like I'm can't help my team, as far as being on the field. Coach tells us to get mental reps. All I can do is stand on the sideline and look at the plays," McDowell said.
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