When the FOX Sports and Scout three-star defensive lineman gets that tingly sensation deep, down in his gut – that inexplicable feeling that bubbles in your chest when you know something is right – that's how he'll decide which school he'll ship his sedan-sized 6-foot-6, 305-pound frame to.
At the moment, McDowdell has that feeling for Tennessee. Enough so that he says he's "close" to committing to the Volunteers.
"I'm real close," McDowdell told InsideTennessee. "They're in my heart right now, know what I'm saying? I can feel them in my gut. It just feels right. (Tennessee is) in a good spot right now. I mean, they show me love, man.
"For me, it's all about just knowing what feels right. I need to feel that school, you know?"
The Nassau (N.Y.) Community College standout may be high on the Vols, but that doesn't mean he's not weighing other options.
McDowdell lists Tennessee as his leader with Alabama, Miami and USC not far behind.
McDowdell won't commit until after his season ends and after he has completed all his visits. McDowdell plans to trip to Knoxville to watch the Vols host Vanderbilt on Nov. 23.
He also will visit Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9 to soak in the Alabama-LSU game.
"I have a lot of other schools after me right now, so I'm not in no rush," McDowdell said. "I got to take my visits and see, you know? Do I like Tennessee? Yes, but no need to rush things."
Tennessee defensive line coach Steve Stripling was at McDowdell's last game against Georgia Military College.
While Stripling's presence was largely focused around watching Vols commit Davonté Lambert, McDowdell noticed Stripling nonetheless.
"(Stripling and I) are cool with each other," McDowdell said. "Everything has always been cool with us. I liked to see him come out here, yeah. Meant a lot."
McDowdell did not play against the nation's top-ranked JUCO team because of a suspension. One-time Auburn signee Jovon Robinson torched Nassau's defense with an eye-opening rushing performance.
"That was not going to happen if I was in the game. That's a fact, man," McDowdell told IT. "No. 2 was not going to be running the ball like that if I was in there. Period. He straight lucky I was suspended."
McDowdell takes that same matter-of-fact bluntness, which at times teeters closer to cockiness, when talking about what matters in his recruitment.
Tennessee will graduate nearly all of its starters and depth along the defensive line after the season. The opportunity to crack the two-deep for a JUCO player is high.
But that doesn't matter to McDowdell.
"Playing time, it ain't nothing to me. Why? ‘cuz I know I'll play no matter where I go – period," McDowdell said. "I don't care how many dudes you be losing or how many starters you have back or whatever. I know when I get in there I'm gonna dog out, you know? It ain't nothing. I know I'll be on the field. I'll beat anyone out."
McDowdell isn't focused on playing for a winning program, either. He solely wants a good relationship with his position coach.
"I don't care about how many games you win or nothing, I just want honesty in my recruiter and coach," McDowdell said. "Be honest with me and I'll give you my effort. That's all that matters."
McDowdell may not be focused on the win column, but he believes the Vols are headed in the right direction.
"Yeah, they is. You could see it in that Georgia game," said McDowdell, who watched the Vols narrowly fall to then sixth-ranked Georgia on TV. "My family and I, we was going crazy. We was going all out mad."