Roderick McDowell's High School Coach Talks About the Clemson Commitment

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Roderick McDowell is a Clemson running back commitment out of Sumter High School who rushed 246 times for 1,892 yards this season. The multi-talented McDowell also caught 25 passes for 411 yards and returned 13 kickoffs for 335 yards, and runs a 4.4 40-yard dash.

I recently spoke with Grayson Howell, who has been McDowell’s offensive coordinator, and asked him some questions about the soon-to-be Tiger.

DH: He obviously was a huge part of the offense, but did you run the offense specifically through him?

GH: No, we were fortunate enough to have some really talented skill guys at wide receiver and quarterback. He was obviously a big part of what we did. At Sumter, we are going to run the ball first, and we were blessed to have someone as talented as him. He also allowed us to do things in the passing game you can’t do with other backs - passing directly to him, or out of the backfield, or on screens. We opened the playbook because of his versatility.

DH: So does he have good hands?

GH: He had the best hands on the team. He is very, very talented and can do everything on the football field that a skill player needs to do.

DH: What are his strengths?

GH: He has great vision, and also, when he puts his foot into the ground he does not decelerate. He can put his foot in the ground, and do that little hop slide and step, and then he is at full speed. He does not have to patter his feet to change directions. That is what separates the good ones from the great ones. He stick his foot in the ground and he is gone right then. He has a gear that not every kid has.

DH: Because of his size (5-10, 175) and speed, a lot of people wonder if he is strictly an outside the tackles player, or can he run for the tough yards inside?

GH: That is something he has learned to do. Later in the season against Gaffney, he showed that he can stick his head in there and run. Any kid that loves the team he is playing on is will to do whatever it takes, and he does. We run a lot of power and isolation formations, so it required him to be an inside runner. Obviously, he is better in space, but he is not afraid to run it inside.

DH: What will enable him to have success on the collegiate level?

GH: His versatility. I know that in high school, running backs are a dime a dozen, but his versatility and top end speed are what separates him from other guys. That and the ability to catch the ball and then not be caught. That is what is going to carry him.

DH: What intangibles does he possess that could help him? Is he a leader?

GH: He has really grown in that area. We had a leadership void on our team for a couple of years, and he has been more and more vocal. He had the desire to lead, and we as coaches had to channel it the right way. He knows that lifting and edifying his teammates is the right way to go about it. He went to the Shrine Bowl and was named a captain by the coaches, so that tells you about him right there. We get all kinds of emails from the teachers and staff here telling us what a great student and person he is, and how polite he is. He is just a great kid.

DH: Clemson has some pretty good running backs already on the roster, so where do you see him fitting in?

GH: I think he is a running back. I think he can come in next year and contribute. I know Clemson has C.J. and Harper and Ellington, but if he can’t fit in at running back as a freshman he can definitely help as a return man. If he doesn’t play running back, they can for sure put him in the slot. We went to the Clemson 7-on-7 passing camp last year and played him at receiver the whole time. He is tough to cover one-on-one. I will tell you this, if I ever get to coach another one like him, I will be very lucky.

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