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A Family Tradition Continues

Oct. 26, 2017

By Cassi White, MSU Athletic Communications Student Assistant

224 miles – the distance that Will and Anita Dowell travel to watch their twin sons play football in Spartan Stadium on Saturdays in the fall.

The linebacker of the family, Andrew Dowell, began his playing career early as he got minutes right off the bat his freshman year. David Dowell, the safety, redshirted his freshman year and just earned his third consecutive start of the season.

Throughout the last few years, the brothers have continuously pushed one another to be great.

“It’s that competitive encouragement that makes us better,” Andrew said. “If I don’t want to work out one day, then he’ll want to work out, and he’ll drag me to work out. It’s the same the other way around. That’s what has pushed us throughout our entire life.”

The quote “A Spartan’s greatest strength is the warrior standing next to him” is religiously used by the Michigan State football team, plastered around the Skandalaris Football Building.

That quote could not be more true for both Andrew and David Dowell, as Andrew is David’s greatest strength, and David is Andrew’s strength. This year, they really began to make a name for their family and play an important role in the success of the Spartan defense.

The Michigan State football program has been known to develop families into exceptional and wildly known football players. The Bulloughs. The Allens. Now: The Dowells.

Linebacker Andrew Dowell even named them the “5-6 show” in honor of their numbers.



On a rainy October 7, David had a breakout game against rival Michigan. David picked off UM quarterback John O’Korn in the second half not just once, but twice, and led the Spartans to yet another thrilling win in the Big House.

Naturally, the person that was there to celebrate with him immediately was Andrew, who put his arm around his brother – a moment that their father coined as “priceless.” As the twins continuously improve each week, that won’t be the last time that happens.

With David’s two picks against Michigan, he leads the team with interceptions and also shares the team lead with three pass break-ups, leading the team with five passes defended. Andrew on the other hand, is second on the team in tackles with 47 total (18 solo, 30 assisted) and 2.5 tackles for loss.

Because of the constant competition that the brothers provide one another, David playfully let Andrew know that he currently has two turnovers, while he has none.

That’s how they get after it. That’s how they push each other. That’s how they make big plays. It works for them.

“When he makes a play, I’m always the first person there to celebrate with him, and when I make a play he’s the first one there to celebrate with me,” David explained. “We compete against each other as far as stats and making plays so it’s definitely nice to have him there to push me and I continue to push him.”

Growing up in the greater Cleveland area, the Dowell brothers didn’t just play football together. They played basketball and ran track together as well. One can only imagine that the competitive edge didn’t stop when it came to football.

When they realized how great of a team they were together, and that they were assets to one another, they figured that playing college football on the same team would benefit not only each other, but the team they played for as well.

“We kind of tried to keep our recruiting separate, but ultimately it worked out and this is somewhere we always wanted to be,” David said. “We always wanted to go to school together. That’s something that was a goal of ours to make it easier on our parents when traveling and stuff like that.

“I remember having a really good feeling knowing that we would get to come up here and play in the Green and White for Coach D,” David smiled.

Coach Dantonio has built this Spartan program with a family-like mentality. He’s been known to recruit brothers or sons of former players – exceptional football players that already know and appreciate what it means to be a Spartan.

“We’re really big on family and being tight,” Andrew said. “It’s a great family atmosphere. That’s what Michigan State provides.”

When recruiting the Dowell brothers, Coach Dantonio knew he would be welcoming two great football players and two great people to his team.

“The entire Dowell family I think is very centered,” Coach Dantonio said, complimenting the entire group.

Being that they live together in a two-bedroom apartment, it’s a lot like living at home for them. They still drag each other out of bed when it’s time to work out, and they still eat meals together when they come home.

Plus, that way it’s easier for the two of them to compete with one another, just as they always have.

“My parents always say we need to give each other a break from each other because we’ll start butting heads and stuff like that,” David laughed.

No matter how much they butt heads and compete with one another, they’re always the first to celebrate with one another when something good happens, and the first to pick each other up when the other falls.

They’re each other’s greatest strength. They’re Spartans.

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