Andreu’s Analysis: Who’s this McDowell guy?

UF signee Griffin McDowell. [Courtesy of UAA]

On a national signing day that saw five four-star studs fall Florida’s way, the early addition of a three-star offensive lineman from Georgia went almost unnoticed by those following recruiting in Gator Nation.

It’s a natural thing, really. When your national ranking is 1,464 on 247Sports and you’re rated the 146th best prospect in your state, you’re going to get overlooked, dismissed.

But there is one very important Gator who is extremely excited about Griffin McDowell coming to Gainesville.

Dan Mullen.

Having recruited McDowell for the last two years when he was the head coach at Mississippi State, Mullen knows all about McDowell and what he can do. And he thinks he is a prime prospect for the future.

“He’s a guy that. … I’m a big believer,” Mullen said. “We had him in multiple camps, and so when you have the opportunity to have him in camps and you’re coaching and teaching him and seeing how he responds, then you get to watch him on film and his growth from his junior to his senior year, then you get to find out the competitive nature — he’s one of those guys. You do your homework and you know an awful lot about him, both as a player, as a person, as a student.

“He’s a player I always knew I wanted on my team. I mean, he wasn’t going to wrestle because of all the recruiting stuff, and then he’s going to the state wrestling meet. He’s got to compete. And those are the guys that I love.”

McDowell committed to Mullen and MSU last summer. That commitment held firm, even after Mullen made the move to Florida. But late in the recruiting process, Mullen reached out to McDowell to see if he was interested in coming to Florida. He was, and he did, flipping to the Gators after his visit to UF on the last weekend in January.

When the unknown McDowell announced his commitment on Twitter the next day, many were wondering if it was a mistake, if he even had a firm offer from Florida yet.

He did, and he accepted it.

Mullen is glad he did.

“After the dust settled a little bit (after Mullen took the UF job), I said, ‘Hey, is there interest?’ And he said, ‘absolutely,’ “ Mullen said. “It’s two and a half, three hours from his house, the opportunity to come here, stay close to home, be near his family and obviously come to the University of Florida.

“He was really excited about it. I’m real excited about him because you know so much about him. One of the things I think you get in trouble as a coach sometimes, all of a sudden you know so much about one guy, and then you just see like a quick highlight film of somebody else and you get all excited about this new guy that you don’t really know much about, and you know all the good and bad about somebody else, that you can fall for the new, quick, shiny five-minute highlight video.

“You’ve got to be really cautious as a coach that you do your proper research and you know exactly who you’re getting as a player, and with Griffin we know exactly who we’re getting.”

As Mullen showed at MSU, one of his strengths is player development. And he obviously sees something in this highly competitive kid from tiny Leesburg, Ga.


  1. “Tiny”Leesburg, as perhaps it is, Robbie, is a suburb of Albany, where I live. The school is pretty large, though, and they were GA 6A champs, with a couple other D1 signees, one of whom went to GA(an elite defensive player, Otis Reese).
    LCHS the home of Buster Posey, Luke Bryan and Phillip Phillips.
    By all accounts, Griffin is a fine young man from a super family. Welcome to Gator Nation, Griffin!

  2. Offensive linemen are the hardest to predict & it’s not unusual for a lower ranked prospect to do just as well, or better, than someone with a bunch of stars. Look no further than Martez Ivey, who was the consensus top offensive lineman in America coming out of high school. There’s a reason he is returning for his Senior year. It’s because he hasn’t come close to living up to the hype when he signed with Florida.

  3. Centers are often under-rated coming out of college to the NFL, as we know, so coming out of high school, too, where coaches put their best big athletes at tackle positions. When I read about a center who seems overlooked my mind turns to Jim Otto from Miami, undrafted bybthe NFL and an eventual Hall of Famer. Griffin McDowell may be our starting guy in the middle for two or three years in the future. Steve’s words about his family and Griffin, as well as Leesburg, are a strong affirmation of Mullen’s wisdom.

  4. Think you meant Jim Langer not Jim Otto. Langer was an unknown who became a star and eventual hall of famer in the early 70’s in Miami. I personally knew him as he lived in the same apt complex across from the old Miami Dade JC. Langer was a big strong guy who once was helping a friend of mine move in, and threw a sofa on his back and carried it up the stairs of the apt complex.