The next man up in VBR’s player previews is former defensive tackle and current offensive guard Derek Dowrey. The rising redshirt sophomore made the move to the offensive side of the ball after playing in eight games as a redshirt freshman at defensive tackle. Dowrey’s move was announced the first day of spring practice in a move to help with depth.
That move is even more important now considering the problems the Nittany Lions are facing on the offensive line in 2014.
Dowrey and fellow newly converted guard Brian Gaia will hopefully help out with the unit that most people think will be the team’s weakest this year (at least heading into training camp). Despite making the switch to guard from defensive tackle, Dowrey has earned the praise of James Franklin and others for his progress during this transition. Also, he did play offensive line in high school, so the position isn’t completely foreign to him.
Dowrey comes from John Handley High School in Winchester, VA, where he was a first-team all-state selection his junior and senior seasons. He was rated by Rivals as a 2-star recruit and chose Penn State over East Carolina, Marshall, Richmond and West Virginia.
It’s reasonable to believe that Dowrey could become one of the full-time starting guards this upcoming season. In the Blue-White game, he did start at left guard with the first team. And even though that was a last-second, makeshift offensive line, Dowrey’s 6-3, 303-pound frame and bullish style ofplay could earn him plenty of playing time and help anchor a young and inexperienced unit.