Roaming the UCLA campus during the Bruins' Junior Day, Dowling felt that if a UCLA offer came his way, that would be impossible to turn down.
At the end of the day, Dowling got the offer from UCLA, but waited a couple of months before jumping on it.
A few more schools joined the fray in that time span, but after visiting UCLA last week for one of their first spring practices, he knew Westwood was where his future would be.
Still, a trip to Stanford loomed, and the 4.1 student wanted to take in a trip to The Farm. But his heart kept going back to UCLA.
A week after seeing UCLA's spring practice, Dowling was back on campus on Thursday, and while sporting a UCLA sweatshirt, he approached head coach Jim Mora, offensive line coach Adrian Klemm and tight ends coach Marques Tuiasosopo, all instrumental in recruiting him, and told him he wanted to be a Bruin.
"I was at a loss for words because of how excited I was," said Dowling. "I was here last Thursday for practice and the improvement of the team is just so noticeable and I want to be a part of the improvement. It's a changing environment and I want to be a part of that."
Dowling said the coaching staff played the biggest role in his decision.
"Coach Mora is one of the greatest coaches I've ever had a chance to be around," said Dowling. "Coach Klemm, he played on three Super Bowl champions and has three Super Bowl rings. They are just amazing people. When I told them, they were fired up and I was fired up."
Dowling said he kept going back to UCLA's Junior Day.
"Junior Day was when I really knew," said Dowling. "I came here and just walked around the school and it just felt right and it felt like where I belonged. With the change here, I think this is a special place and it's going to be a really good program coming up. UCLA is top notch. There is no way I could go wrong getting an education here. It's one of the top public schools on the planet and I take my academics serious. The average GPA of an incoming freshman is like a 4.4 and I have a 4.1 so I know I'll be challenged."
Dowling said making the decision dropped a lot of pressure.
"It's a relief, a huge relief," said Dowling. "I can't even put it into words. It just feels great."
Dowling said he spent much of practice with fellow commit Erik Bunte and the two were already working on some other recruits during practice.
"We were texting with Nico Falah and telling him to commit next," said Dowling. "Me and Erik are going to start recruiting everyone we can and want to get a good class in here. We want this to be like Stanford was last year. But we want UCLA to be the standard. We want people to say next year ‘We want to get a class like UCLA."
Dowling said his family was thrilled with his choice.
"My family is excited for me," said Dowling. "They told me that this was my decision but they are really excited for me."