Says roommate Pat McNelis, a starting defensive tackle, "The biggest thing Dee has is his desire to do well—in everything." Dowis's grade point average is a respectable 2.53 at one of the nation's more demanding institutions. Not bad for a product of Franklin County High School, where not only was the football program mediocre but also where, on average, only 27% of the graduating seniors went to college.
For now, Dowis isn't clear what he wants to do in the future. Maybe a doctor. Perhaps a lawyer. Or, given his surroundings, a pilot. The lure of being at the controls of an F-16 screaming across the horizon is growing. "I'm not sure exactly what, sir," he says.
Immediately after the game against UTEP, Dowis and teammate Randle Gladney drove to Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs to visit Jason Feyh, 8, who survived the July 19 United Air Lines crash in Sioux City. Jason's mother, Brenda, was killed, and Jason was in critical condition. Dowis has become devoted to the boy. This day, Jason, in a cast from his waist down, asked to play catch. He was wheeled into a parking lot and did so. When somebody said he threw better spirals than Dowis, Jason immediately offered to show Dowis the proper grip for better results. The joy on the child's face was indescribable. As was that on Dowis's face.
Says Air Force athletic director John Clune, "Dee projects us to the nation, and more important he projects us the way we want to be projected. His story is Americana, which is what the Academy is." And it's easy to see, maybe 10 years hence, Dowis back in Georgia, spitting sunflower seeds and talking about the soybeans, a zillion miles from the hoopla and the crowds and the jet roar.
So what are you thinking now, Dee?
"That I'm just happy, sir."