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June 17, 2012

McDowell ready to test himself

MORE: Five-Star Challenge | Underclassmen Challenge

The Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge was created to bring the top players in the country together, regardless of class. In the Midwest/Northeast, several of the top defensive linemen happen to be 2014 prospects, including Detroit Loyola defensive end Malik McDowell.

The 6-foot-6, 280-pound McDowell will join fellow class of 2014 prospects Da'Shawn Hand and Andrew Brown, along with class of 2013 five-star Kenny Bigelow as the defensive line representatives for the Midwest/Northeast squad.

Although McDowell's name is often mentioned alongside the likes of Hand and Brown, he is not familiar with his fellow rising junior defensive line stars.

"Truly, I had never heard of them," McDowell said. "I'm not into looking at other players.

"To tell you the truth, I don't watch football that much. It is a sport I can't watch, I can just play. I have a passion and love football, I just can't watch other players because it makes me want to get out there and play."

Like Hand and Brown, McDowell has an offer list that exploded this past spring and is well into double-digit territory with the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Stanford and Oregon tendering. All the attention, though, caught McDowell by surprise and he is hoping for a little respite from his sudden stardom.

"I wish it would slow down a little bit because the attention is a little too much," McDowell said. "But I'm cool with it."

Although McDowell was not expecting the surge of offers so early in his recruitment, he is very confident in his abilities. McDowell has very clear goals going into the event ("To show that I am more dominant than them,") but knows the level of talent he will face will be unlike anything he has faced thus far.

"I've got to get off the ball because I'm not used to those offensive linemen's first step," McDowell said.

McDowell is also adjusting to a growing body. Having just finished his sophomore year of high school, the Detroit native is still in his formative years and has seen physical growth just in the last several months. He went from 260 pounds in February to now more than 280 pounds heading into the Five-Star Challenge.

Much of that growth is due to an intensified weight room effort. McDowell spends five days a week in the weight room following a very specific plan, and has increased his strength. At 280 pounds, though, his natural position of defensive end may be forfeited for a spot on the interior of the defensive line.

Either way, McDowell is ready to test himself against the nation's best, both in his class and across the country. In fact, the anticipation of his arrival in Atlanta is already starting to build.

"I am anxious," McDowell said. "I know I probably won't be able to go to sleep the night before."

Mike Farrell's take

McDowell is a huge underclassmen who has been mentioned in the same breath and fellow 2014 stud defensive linemen Da'Shawn Hand and Andrew Brown. However, he hasn't been as consistent so far on film or at camps yet to be the five star lock both players from Virginia appear to be. This will be a great test for him to challenge himself next to those two on his own team and for him to see how he can handle bigger, stronger and older offensive linemen.

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