Finding His Home

ATHENS - After playing for three schools in his final three years of high school, Marcus Dowtin thinks he has finally found a home at Georgia.

"I just felt comfortable here," Dowtin said. "I felt comfortable with the coaching staff. I loved the Athens area. It was a good fit for me. I just thought that Georgia was the right place for me."

Dowtin came to the Bulldogs from Fork Union Military Academy, where his days were filled with football, class and military drills – and not a whole lot else. Before that, he played for Georgetown Prep, and he played at Bishop O'Connell prior to that. All three schools are near Dowtin's hometown of Upper Marlboro, Md.

Through all that change, his one constant was football.

As a senior at Fork Union, Dowtin had 76 tackles (including nine for a loss), three fumble recoveries, two sacks and one interception on defense, in addition to 1,202 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns on 121 carries (9.9 yards per carry) on offense. Those numbers were almost a carbon copy of what he put up at Georgetown Prep, where he had 92 tackles and 1,132 yards rushing. Even as a sophomore, Dowtin had 126 tackles and two interceptions.

All those numbers resulted in his being ranked the No. 7 weakside linebacker and No. 111 overall player in the nation by

Those numbers and Dowtin's location in the middle of the eastern seaboard made him a recruiting target for schools as far north as Syracuse and as far west as California, not to mention throughout the SEC.

Dowtin made an immediate impression at linebacker in Athens. He played in all 13 games as a true freshman and finished the season with 17 tackles, a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry. He had his two best games of the season against Florida and LSU, recording three tackles in each game while playing the backup weak side linebacker position.

The rising sophomore entered spring practice with the same instructions all of Georgia's promising linebackers get at some point in their career: learn all three linebacking positions.

Linebackers coach John Jancek "thought I should move to (middle linebacker) and learn that position and basically get a feel for all the linebacker positions and see where I can contribute the best."

So during the spring, Dowtin spent practices shadowing starting middle linebacker Akeem Dent.

"He has been working hard this offseason," said starting weak side linebacker Rennie Curran. "He's an amazing athlete. Really for him, it's just the mental side of the ball. If he can get that down, he'll be a dangerous guy. He's a guy who can do big things for our defense. He doesn't have many questions. He's a million miles away from when he was a freshman. Things are starting to click for him."

Dowtin – who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 226 pounds – was a quick study at the middle linebacker position.

"It's basically the same thing, just the opposite of the (weak side)," he said. "Being here for a year, being able to learn the defenses is pretty easy for me."

Dowtin is willing to learn and play the strongside linebacker position – or SAM – as well, but he would prefer his future be in either the middle or on the weak side.

"I would say the Mike and Will are a lot more complicated than the Sam position," he said. "If I had to play (Sam) because the team needed me, I would play there, but I really like the Mike and Will."

Dowtin agrees with Curran's assessment of his progress.

"Coming into last year I was a little unsure. I had some issues with balancing football and other things. Now I am more focused and just ready to take over," he said. "I know the plays, so there is nothing really to hold me back."

Dowtin plans to major in business at the prestigious Terry College next year. As for his immediate future on the football field in the 2009 season, he's trying not to think too much about that.

"I think as long as I keep on learning and working hard, then playing time will work itself out," he said. "Coach Jancek usually does a good job of rotating us in and out. I think I have an equal chance of getting playing time."

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