Scott McDowell was a man on a mission. He came to Illinois for a one-day camp and was rewarded with a scholarship offer. He fared as well or better than any other offensive lineman over the two week period of camps.
"I thought I did about as good as I could. There wasn't a lot of opportunity because there weren't many kids. But I learned what I needed to, and I showed them I was athletic and could lift a lot."
McDowell ran the 40 in 5.1, excellent for an offensive lineman, and he demonstrated outstanding explosion by leap-frogging almost an entire ten yards in three hops. Even more impressive, he did those three standing long jumps without taking time to gather himself in between jumps.
"I work hard on all those things with Coach (Mike) Jones back here at Hinsdale Central. It's not that I'm just natural, it's because I've put in a lot of hard work for it."
That includes practicing the standing long jump.
"Yeah, like pretty much every day I've been working on drills like that."
McDowell was both excited and humbled by the Illinois offer that arrived a day after his camp experience.
"Illinois is my first Big 10 offer. I've got Miami of Ohio, Western Michigan, Toledo, Northern Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Cincinnati."
The Big 10 fan has several conference schools interested. He has attended some of their camps and is talking to others.
"I was at Indiana and got a good response from them as well. I've been to the Iowa camp, Purdue camp, Cincinnati, Michigan State, and Northwestern."
Quality tackles are hard to find. McDowell might just fit the bill.
"The Illini coaches were lining me up as a tackle. That's what they said they were recruiting me as."
The 6'-5" McDowell has the frame to add muscle mass without losing quickness.
"I weigh 276. Coach (Joe) Gilbert was talking to me about what he would be able to do with me as far as putting on weight and getting stronger."
He was impressed with Gilbert, who would be his offensive line coach.
"I thought Coach Gilbert was a great guy and knows what he is talking about. He's very confident on technique and stuff. I really learned a lot. He teaches a little bit differently, and it was really helpful."
McDowell has family ties and has observed the Illini with interest over the years.
"It's definitely a program with potential. I remember watching them closely with Rashard Mendenhall and that season where they went to the Rose Bowl. These past few years they haven't done as well, but I think they're bringing in some good new coaches, and they always have a lot of potential. It could be exciting.
"I've always watched them off and on just because that's where my mom went to school and where my whole mom's side of the family tends to go to school. So I've always been a fan and why I'm interested."
McDowell hopes to finalize his college decision before the start of his senior season.
"I'm definitely gonna finish up all my camps and wait and see what all comes of it. But what I want to do is make some more visits, get to know the coaches and players better and hopefully decide sometime in the summer so I don't drag it out too long and have it run into our season."