6’3” – 198 lbs. – 4.50e
2010: University of Florida
2011: Redshirt (Transfer to Western Kentucky)
2012: 68 – 2.5 – 0.0, 2 FF, 7 PD, 6 INT (1 TD), 1 BK
2013: 67 – 1.0 – 0.0, 1 QBH, 6 FF, 7 PD, 3 INT
Spent one year at Florida, but was dismissed for reportedly clashing with the coaching staff and skipping classes. Sat out the 2011 season due to transfer rules, then was named an All-Sun-Belt First Team selection in 2012 after starting eleven games. Also made the first team in 2013, starting twelve games.
• Possesses outstanding height and length for a pro safety, with adequate weight as well.
• Earned first-team all-conference honors in both of his seasons with the Hilltoppers.
• Athleticism allows him to cover impressive range in zone, cover opposing slot receivers.
• Has fluid hips, allowing him to remain with receivers when deployed in man coverage.
• Capable of making big hits on unsuspecting receivers, fairly aggressive in this regard.
• Exhibits soft hands to make interceptions, generally times his plays on the ball well.
• Managed to force eight fumbles over the past two seasons, including six times in 2013.
• Confident player who plays with a swagger, seems to relish assuming an enforcer role.
• Also did some work on special-teams coverage units, plus blocked a kick back in 2012.
• Dismissal from Florida in 2010 is a major red flag which teams must closely investigate.
• Must learn to wrap ballcarriers rather than attempting to go low, leading with shoulder.
• Takes some sharp pursuit angles, causing him to end up out of position to make a stop.
• Poor tackling technique/parlous angles makes him unreliable as a last line of defense.
• Lack of ideal strength/bulk allows opponents to shrug off some of the hits he attempts.
• Hasn’t done much work in the box; thin build will likely prevent him from playing there.
Dowling opted to forego his senior season after two productive campaigns at Western Kentucky in which he demonstrated a knack for forcing turnovers, whether by making interceptions or stripping ballcarriers. His rare height and length, combined with solid speed and fluid hips, make him an interesting gamble as a developmental center-fielder, although at this point his disregard for tackling technique and his aggressive angles in pursuit are significant flaws given that free safeties are considered a team’s last line of defense. Previous issues at Florida leading to his dismissal from the team, which reportedly included clashes with position coach Chuck Heater and poor attendance in school, mean teams will have to conduct considerable research into his character, particularly his ability to handle hard coaching, something which Dowling identified as a point of contention between himself and Heater. The most deleterious flaws in Dowling’s game can be eliminated, but whether or not he will respond well to instruction remains to be seen.