After two seasons of leading the Mountlake Terrace Hawks football team to postseason play, and accumulating impressive individual statistics, MTHS senior Devante Downs was expected to shine this year, possibly taking the team to heights never reached before. But those expectations were dashed when the 6-3, 230-pound running back tore an ACL back in June, an injury that sidelined Downs for the entire 2013 season.
Despite the season-ending injury, Downs was heavily recruited by a number of college football programs. In August, Downs announced he would attend the University of California and play for the Golden Bears.
MLTnews caught up with the Cal recruit and asked him about watching his high school teammates play without him this year, how the recovery from his injury is going, and what’s next for in his life.
MLTnews: Watching the games from the sidelines this year – how did you feel about that?
Downs: I wish I had been out there, but it was nice to get a different perspective, to see what the coaches saw from the sidelines and how they relay that back to the team. I think that will help me next year in my progression to be a college player.
MLTnews: So despite not playing, you think you’ve grown this year as a football player?
Downs: Yeah, because I saw things from a different perspective, from the (press) box and from the sidelines; it will help me in the future.
MLTnews: How’s the recovery from your injury going?
Downs: It’s going good. I feel that I can run already; I can side shuffle, I can squat, I can jump, I can do everything. Just one more month and I can start cutting.
MLTnews: You’re planning on graduating here (from Mountlake Terrace High School) at the end of this semester?
Downs: Yes, I am going to graduate next month and go (to Berkeley) in January.
MLTnews: And you’ll be able to participate in Cal spring practices?
Downs: Yeah, but if I am not ready physically I will be by summer.
MLTnews: What kind of rehab are you doing now?
Downs: Running, and (the trainer) has a band around my waist and I pull him up the hill. I do jumping, lunges, side squats, patterns jumping across a line and sideways, and touch cones and shuffle.
MLTnews: Ready to be a Golden Bear?
Downs: Definitely. Right now I am still taking a couple visits to Oregon State, Arizona State and maybe Wazzu – and whoever else who asked me. But I am still definitely committed to Cal.
Downs and a number of other blue chip recruits are expected to help a Golden Bears team that just completed the 2013 season with a record of 1-11, the worst for the Cal football program since 1999. This year’s squad had one bright spot, freshman quarterback Jared Goff, who started every game for the Golden Bears. He also set the school’s single-game passing record with 504 yards against Washington State on Oct. 5, and Cal’s single-season passing record with 3,508 yards this year.
Soon after their season-ending defeat to rival Stanford on Nov. 23, first-year Cal head coach Sonny Dykes vowed to turn around the program in 2014. The Cal Golden Bears open next season on the road against the Northwestern Wildcats on Aug. 30, 2014.
— By Doug Petrowski