Player Spotlight: Derek Dowrey
Derek Dowrey has had one of the most interesting Penn State football careers out of all of the players on the roster.
The 6-foot-3-inch, 323-pound right guard came to Penn State as a three-star defensive tackle and had been originally been recruited by Joe Paterno’s staff before signing to play for Bill O’Brien.
Dowrey redshirted his freshman season hoping to add weight and produce as a defensive tackle the following season. As a redshirt-freshman, he found the field in eight games, mostly in short-yardage situations, producing one tackle. That winter, Coach O’Brien left for the NFL and James Franklin was hired as the next head coach.
Dowrey’s career would then take its first huge turn. Lacking depth, Franklin asked Dowrey to switch his position to offensive line. He would start one game against the University of Massachusetts, however, this was his only start while appearing in action 11 other times.
During his junior year, Dowrey seemed to finally be completing his transformation into an offensive guard. He started in five games as the offensive line struggled greatly with injuries as well as protecting former star quarterback Christian Hackenberg. They allowed 46 sacks on the year, digressing from 31 the year before. It was clear the depth was still limited from the sanctions inflicted on the football program.
Starting Dowrey’s senior year, this lack of depth seemed to finally change. Immediate impact players arrived on campus in the form of Connor McGovern and Michal Mennet, both true freshmen. Another fresh face to the line is redshirt freshman Ryan Bates who impressed everyone in the offseason. These young linemen all had promising talent, but lacked valuable experience needed to succeed at the college level. Dowry has been influential in all of their development, specifically Connor McGovern who has split snaps with Dowry at right guard.
Very few people would react to this development as well as Dowry seems to be. He was finally going to get his chance to be a full-time starter, but McGovern forced his way into the lineup and the pair continues to share snaps.
In fact, Dowrey has taken it so far as to say “my job is to help him progress as much as he can. I want him to maximize every snap that he gets.”
How many fifth-year seniors have you heard say that about a true freshman taking snaps from them? It is reasons like this why Dowry is so valuable to this offensive line.
Along with his experience he has gone through more adversity than most players on this team. Dowrey’s leadership could be one of the reasons this line seems to be so improved from a year ago. Through three games, the offensive line has allowed five sacks. Last year at this time, the line had allowed 10.
Whether Dowrey is on the field or not, he will be making an impact throughout the offensive line because of his outstanding leadership and selflessness.
Brian McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.