Marcus Dowtin was never a Boy Scout but that doesn't mean he's not familiar with being prepared.
When Akeem Dent (hamstring) and Darius Dewberry (pulled muscle) went down with their respective injuries, the sophomore from Marlboro, Md. was the first player linebacker coach John Jancek turned to when trying to fill the void.
He hasn't disappointed.
Although position mates Rennie Curran and Darryl Gamble receive most of the ink, Dowtin is proving that Jancek's faith has been well-placed, as he enters Saturday's game against No. 4 LSU as Georgia's third-leading tackler and an emerging star on defense.
"I can't say I'm surprised," said Dowtin, when asked if he thought he'd make this much of an impact. "I've been waiting for my chance. I'm not surprised about being able to play; the coaches knew I could; now it's just a matter of going out and doing the right things. My time has come, now it's up to me to make the most of it."
Dowtin certainly picked an opportune time to get with the program.
With Dent having missed the last two games and Dewberry two of the past three, Jancek was looking for another body to make an impact.
Dowtin hasn't disappointed, making two starts for the Bulldogs at Mike linebacker.
"He a real good player. He's been a good player since he's got here. I noticed him right away and thought that. He's learned the system, he's getting better each day and will be productive as long as he's on the field," teammate and fellow linebacker Marcus Washington said. "He's got the right size; he's got the speed - the perfect combo to get the job done. He loves to hit. Marcus is a guy who can do whatever it takes to get the job done."
It didn't take Dowtin long to show what he can do.
In the opener at Oklahoma State, Dowtin tied Curran for the team lead and a career-high in tackles with eight and last week added four in the Bulldogs' win against Arizona State.
"Coach Jancek always stresses the next man up," Dowtin said. "He always says to be ready when he calls. When he makes that call that means he trusts you, so at that point, it's up to me to go out and back it up."
Dowtin saw his share of playing time as a true freshman.
Last year, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder saw action in all 13 games for the Bulldogs, collecting 17 tackles in part-time duty.
One of the most soft-spoken Bulldogs, Dowtin said there's a couple of reasons he feels that his playing time has increased.
No. 1, he's able to focus better than he ever did before.
"I'd say I'm focused about 95 percent of the times. Sometimes when I get beside myself I'll start daydreaming or something. I'll just zone out," Dowtin said.
But that was mostly last year.
Now that he's an integral part of Georgia's linebacker corp., Dowtin said he's now able to keep his head in the game.
"It's a lot easier now that I'm playing. Instead of standing on the sideline and hoping that I'll get in, I'm on the sideline looking at different things that's going to help me when I do get out," he said. "That's been a big help. I know now, if I go out and happen to make a mistake; I'll be able to go back and correct them and work on them in practice."
Of course, getting the playing time that he received last year helped, too.
"Getting to play last year, this year I knew what to expect," Dowtin said. "It gave me a chance to learn the position, see the different tempos and learn the speed of the game. Now, it's just like high school. All I have to do is go out and play."
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