USA TODAY Sports-Rich Barnes

Syracuse cornerback Juwan Dowels on his mindset this season, facing Cooper Rush and more.

Syracuse cornerback Juwan Dowels details the emotions behind playing college football for the first time.

Redshirt freshman cornerback Juwan Dowels is seeing the field this year, as opposed to last year when he spent all season watching from the sidelines and learning behind the scenes. Dowels approach, however, has remained mostly consistent. Prepare like you're starting and you will always be ready.

The key there is mostly consistent. There is always a change when transitioning from observing on the sideline to playing a signficant role.

"The mindset definitely changed a little bit," Dowels said. "Now I'm out there on the field. It's definitely a good feeling playing football, division one football. The mindset changed a little bit, but I always had the same mindset. Staying upbeat, lifting my teammates up when I'm not in the game watching.

"I'm always that person to cheer everybody up on the sideline. Still staying in tune with the game. I think that's my big attribute to the team."

The smile on Dowels face when discussing what it was like to play college football for the first time is undeniable. There is genuine excitement, joy and humility from the young defensive back. The sencerity of those emotions come through when you speak to him.

After Syracuse's game against Rhode Island, Dowels spoke to several members of his family. Those first moments, and sharing them with family, are memories he will never forget.

"I definitely talked to my mom," Dowels said. "She was real excited. My brothers, my dad, those guys are the main people I really talked to. I talked to a couple of my teammates. It's just an exciting feeling to get out there, finally, knowing you're playing college football now. It's so unreal sometimes.

"But you've got to go out and still have the same calmness I did when I was playing in high school."

Dowels and the Orange secondary have a difficult task this week. They have to shut down Cooper Rush, one of the best quarterbacks they will face this season. 

"He's a really good quarterback," Dowels said. "He does a lot of things well. He has a good arm, he reads defenses real well. We're just going to try to play within ourselves, not too much out of ourselves, to stop him. We know we're going to have a great challenge ahead of us. We're looking forward to it."

More from Dowels in the video below.


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