Character And Talent

Covington (La.) High School Coach Greg Salter said Ole Miss commitment Garrald McDowell's athletic ability is a given - he's very talented. But what impresses Salter more is McDowell's character.

"Garrald got all the accolades you can get on the field, but what's most important to me is that he's an outstanding young man, an outstanding teammate and an outstanding character guy," said Salter, who took his team - with McDowell as his bell cow - in his first year as Covington's head man to the state semifinals before losing by one point. "Garrald does everything the right way. He's never been in any trouble, he works hard in the classroom and he's just a pleasure to be around."

While McDowell is the kind of youngster Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze is trying to fill his roster with, McDowell did not get a scholarship for citizenship alone.

"His football skills kind of speak for themselves," Salter continued. "He was huge for us. He got double-teamed most of the year, which opened things up for his teammates. Being the kind of unselfish kid he is, that was fine with him, but he still had over 130 tackles and 11 quarterback sacks."

According to Salter, McDowell's strength is his movement - quickness off the ball, aka current Rebel Issac Gross.

"Garrald has great feet. He's extremely quick and he uses his hands well," Salter continued. "He's also very instinctive. He reads his keys quickly and reacts quickly. He's a bright player and he has a relentless motor. He never quits.

Garrald McDowell
File Photo

"With kids with his ability, sometimes they get complacent and think they know everything there is to know. Garrald is not like that at all. He's very coachable and he can take constructive criticism and grow from it. He never gets satisfied with where he is in his development."

Salter said, in short, McDowell is "a football player."

"We measured him at 6-1 1/2 or 6-2 and he played around 255-260. I know some college coaches would like their D-ends a little bigger, but this kid is a football player," Salter noted. "You take 11 who look good in their uniform and I'll take 11 football players and I'll win every time.

"And that's not to say Garrald is not a specimen. He benches well over 300 pounds and squats in the 500 range. He is athletic and strong for a kid his age and size. He's so quick - he could probably start for our basketball team here if he played."

McDowell was so valuable for Salter that in short-yardage situations, he was installed as the fullback.

"Garrald scored eight touchdowns and caught a TD pass as a fullback. I'm telling you - he's an athlete," Salter continued.

Salter is - noticeably - excited about McDowell's future.

"I look for him to be a star on the next level. He has that kind of makeup - desire, ability, attitude, unselfishness," Salter said. "Whatever he can do to make the team better, he's all in.

"At Covington - and I have been here 13 years - we have one come around like him about every 15-20 years. Rebel Nation is going to love him, I promise."

McDowell was named his district's Defensive MVP in Louisiana's biggest classification (5A), first team All-State and played in the Under Armour All-American game, where he recorded a quarterback sack.

Salter got a kick out of McDowell's sack.

"He threw up the land shark," Salter closed.

McDowell, already committed to the Rebs, will come on his official visit this weekend to Ole Miss.

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