Clifton McDowell looked destined for Prairie View but signed with McNeese. What happened?

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The last three months have been a whirlwind for former Spring Lions standout Clifton McDowell.

One week into 2024, the former 3-star quarterback led Montana to the FCS national championship game in Frisco. Two days after the Grizzlies loss to South Dakota State, McDowell announced his intention to enter the transfer portal on Jan. 9.

McDowell committed to Temple less than two weeks later. That began a wild offseason for the talented 6-foot-4, 225-pound signal-caller, who quietly re-entered the transfer portal in March. He was expected to compete for the starting job with the Owls, but The Temple News received confirmation of McDowell’s exit from the program when he wasn’t present on the opening day of spring practice.

Some speculated on April 3 that McDowell would return to Montana after he quoted-tweeted three hourglass emojis above a post about his original commitment to Montana in May 2023. However, the Defender Network’s Terrance Harris spotted McDowell at Prairie View A&M’s spring practice last Wednesday and reported the quarterback was close to committing to the Panthers.

So, why did McDowell announce his commitment to McNeese two days after Harris’ account?

Coaches often say nothing is official until the papers are signed, whether a Letter of Intent (LOI) in high school or a scholarship agreement when transferring. Another reporter posted a tweet stating that PVAMU head coach Bubba McDowell (No relation) confirmed the standout quarterback's signing, fans prematurely planned to celebrate another SWAC West Division title. That story has since been updated to read the quarterback was just visiting.

Nothing had been signed at that point. According to sources within PVAMU athletics, Clifton informed Texas Southern and Prairie View of his commitment to the Panthers last Wednesday. However, the quarterback had one more call before Bubba McDowell would allow the talented quarterback to sign a scholarship agreement. That call was to McNeese, who was one of Clifton’s final three teams under consideration.

Those around the Panthers program were hoping Clifton’s mother's desire to watch her son play close to home would outweigh any last-second offer McNeese might make. But Clifton’s mother made it clear to those at PVAMU that the choice was his. The concern within the program was realized when Clifton relayed to them that he would attend McNeese after the Cowboys offered him significantly more Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) opportunities than Prairie View could offer.

This isn't the first time McDowell's recruitment has had a rocky ending. McDowell originally committed to Louisiana in June 2018 but didn't sign his LOI until six months later.

McDowell left UL after one season and transferred to Kilgore, where he appeared in 10 games for the Rangers before transferring to Central Arkansas. McDowell entered the transfer portal again following the 2022 season. He initially committed to fellow SWAC West Division foe and rival Southern on April 30, 2023 but later decommitted from the Jaguars on May 12 before announcing his commitment to Montana on May 15.

When McDowell officially arrives in Lake Charles, it will mark the sixth different program he has joined since leaving high school in 2019.

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