The competition for Cortez McDowell (Locust Grove, Ga. Locust Grove) is turning into a three-team race with Tennessee, Auburn and Florida State in the running for the four-star safety. The Volunteers were believed to be the front-runner, but recent visits to see the Tigers’ and Seminoles’ campuses have shifted the top of his pecking order.
McDowell has been a frequent visitor to Knoxville to check out what Butch Jones is building at Tennessee, but that early momentum has come to a standstill. Despite McDowell saying he feels comfortable at Tennessee their SEC counterpart at Auburn is getting similar rave reviews.
Keith Niebuhr asked McDowell what makes Auburn stand out, “They care about more than football. They care about you more than just as a football player.” McDowell would continue to say Auburn and Tennessee are recruiting him the hardest, and he believes both programs are on the rise.
The primary reason Auburn has overtaken Tennessee is his relationship with his recruiter Dameyune Craig. Auburn’s ace recruiter has had a relationship with McDowell since his freshman year, and two of McDowell’s high school coaches, Karsten Bailey and Ronney Daniels, are former Auburn wide receivers.
In Auburn’s 4-2-5 defense he has been told by Auburn’s coaches that he would be a fit in two of their three safety spots, and they have even toyed with the idea of playing him on offense. However, McDowell is defense all the way and could even bulk up to develop into an outside linebacker in the mold of Alec Ogletree who Bailey has compared him to.
Georgia will get a visit from him for their Dawg Night and Arkansas is another team on the periphery trying to crack the top three, but this is a three-team race for now. The trip to Athens is one to keep an eye on, but until then I would rank his top three as Auburn, Tennessee and then Florida State.
The 6-2, 205-pound safety is planning on visiting his top contenders before making his decision which McDowell says is still one or two months away. His potential visit to Tennessee will need to be his best to reverse momentum and secure his commitment.