Oregon went into SEC country and landed one of the nation’s best running backs in Picayune (Miss.) Memorial four-star running back Dante Dowdellwho announced his plans to play for the Ducks on Friday over Ole Miss, Tennessee and several others.

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“We’ve known for a long time,” Dowdell’s stepfather Lawrence Hopkins said.

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Dowdell just wanted to wait till the end of his spring season before going public, keeping the steady flow of colleges coaches to come by the school to see his teammates while they were going through camp.

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Commit no. 4 head coach Dan Lanning and Oregon in the 2023 class, the 6-foot-1, 207-pound Dowdell rushed 329 times for 2,555 yards and 28 touchdowns as a junior in leading his team to a state championship. He is tabbed by the 247Sports Composite as the No. 20 running back in the class and was MaxPreps Mississippi Player of the Year.

“The coaches are real good people and they believe I can be the face of that school,” Dowdell said. “I want to be different from everyone else.”

Dowdell visited Eugene earlier this spring.

“I have the opportunity to be a true freshman and help lead Oregon to their first National Championship. They need some down South kids and I’m one of the first ones going.”

Hopkins is high on the Ducks as well.

“Oregon wants Dante to be the face of Oregon for the next three years,” he said. “Oregon isn’t just a team, in a sense Oregon is just family. You have head coach Dan Lanningrunning back coach Carlos Locklyn, they’ve just been amazing,” he said. “I think Oregon, Dan Lanning he just came from Georgia and in my honest opinion he’s not leaving SEC country, Oregon is going to be the first SEC team in the Pac 12. They’re building an SEC team in the Pac 12. Seems like all the majority of recruits are going to be coming from the South.

“Coach Locklyn, last year he was at Western Kentucky and Western Kentucky led college football in rushing yards. He’s going to run the ball and he knows how to get those yards and Coach Lanning being the defensive coordinator at Georgia he has a defensive mindset and most defensive coaches they’re going to ground and pound and eat that clock up.”

Dowdell will enroll early at Oregon and his head coach Cody Stogner says he’s college ready right now.

“You can give him the ball 25 times and he gets stronger and stronger as the game goes along,” Stogner said. “To me he’s one of the best running backs in the country. It’s nice to have that on your side. He’s not just a bruiser, he can outrun you and make you miss.

“He’s a phenomenal athlete, phenomenal student, phenomenal person. He checks off everything you want in a football player. He’s here everyday, never complains, works his tail off. He’s earned everything.”

Besides his finalists, Dowdell held offers from the likes of Arkansas, Boston College, Cincinnati, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Minnesota, Missouri, South Carolina and West Virginia.

“He’s already built Ford Tough,” Hopkins said. “When he’s carrying the ball I see a mad man.

“What makes him special is that he’s going to work harder than anyone else. He works three times as hard as anyone else. He’s humble, he doesn’t require or want all the attention. He’s a team player. He wants all of his team to be just as good as he is.”

That future team is Oregon and Dowdell is working to win championships on the next level like he is on the prep scene.