By the time the 2008 recruiting class is in the headlines, Shawntel Rowell of Warrensville Heights should be a common name near the very top of every list for recognizing the best prospects in the state of Ohio from the 2007 football season.
At 6-3 and 330 pounds already, Rowell, the younger brother of Chris Rowell who is headed to Iowa in the fall, is gearing for up for his sophomore campaign with the Tigers right now. Both Chris and Shawntel were recently in Youngstown as guest instructors at the Youngstown Braves Youth Football Camp hosted by Devlin Culliver, the head coach at Warrensville Heights, for youngsters ages 6-12. Culliver played his high school ball at Cardinal Mooney where the camp was held on July 9.
Shawntel will turn 16 on Jan. 7 but he looks like he could be going off to college like his older brother at this time.
"Basically what I'm doing now is just getting ready for the upcoming season," he said. "I'm training real hard with my team right now and hopefully we'll have a successful season and make it to the playoffs this year."
As a freshman last year, Rowell started six games at defensive tackle last year and earned honorable mention honors in the Lake Erie League. He also played a little with the varsity basketball team at Warrensville and threw the shot and disc in track season. He certainly doesn't look like your typical sophomore at first glance.
"I've been growing ever since I was about 11. My friends started calling me Shaq," Rowell said. "I was always taller than all of my friends and I used to look older than them too. Most of my friends were older than me but everybody thought I was older than them."
Rowell claims a 2.95 GPA after his first year in high school so he's off to a pretty good start academically.
"My academics are pretty good and I enjoy school," he said. "My goals are to get to college and earn a degree. And I would like to play professional football one day but right now I'm just focused on my team and us getting into the playoffs and stuff like that."
He is slated to play on both sides of the ball for Culliver this year. As a freshman, Rowell only played on defense at tackle.
"I'm playing on both sides of the ball in high school but hopefully at the next level I'll play defense," he said. "I'll be playing both ways at tackle this year."
His brother Chris, all 6-1, 180 pounds of him, is a big inspiration to Shawntel.
"If it wasn't for my brother I wouldn't even be playing football," Shawntel said. "I'm really excited to see one of my family members going to college, to a Big Ten school and all. I'm just enjoying it right now with him being my brother and people recognizing who he is. It just makes me want to work harder so that I can become as good an athlete as he is."
But college and the recruiting game is still so very far away for Shawntel.
"I really don't have nothing to say about college yet," he said, "I'm just mainly focusing on high school now."
His allegiance to his brother and the Iowa Hawkeyes is a given now, but Rowell still is a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
"I still like Ohio State though," he said. "I grew up watching Ohio State and Michigan and Ohio State has always been one of my favorites. I'm going to see the Ohio State versus Iowa game this year."
David Patterson, who also hails from Warrensville Heights, is an Ohio State guy that Rowell looks up to.
"D-Pat left a legendary mark on the field that a lot of people have tried to fill but they can't," Rowell said. "I'm not going to try to fill someone else's shoes, I'm just trying to build on the ones that I'm wearing right now. But I talk to him every now and then when he comes to the school and he gives me a few pointers here and there."
It's all for the good of his upcoming season at Warrensville.
"My biggest goal this year is for my team to make it to the playoffs," Rowell said. "I'm not an individual person, I'm a team person. We should have a great season this year but if we don't go to the playoffs then it's not successful. The playoffs, I can see it coming this year."