His heart beat is slowing and his eyes are closed. His headphones are in to block out all extra noise. The slow rhythm of old school R&B, R. Kelly or maybe Keith Sweat, is playing to help ease his nerves.
Thirty minutes before game time. The music switches to Kodak Black. The beat moves faster and so does his blood. This is what is getting him pumped. This is the music that is going to get him energized. This is game time.
The fans are in the stands yelling. Cheering.
Finally, the announcer yells. He pops in his gold teeth and out running onto the field he goes.
This is a setting that is all too familiar for Dorian Cowart. One that he’s been a part of since he was a 10-year-old. Except now, it’s at the collegiate level. The 5-foot-8-inch, 190 pounds running back for the South Dakota School of Mines Hardrockers is ready to get the game going.
The industrial engineering major stays dedicated to not only football, but also his studies. Cowart has been at the university for a little over two years now, leaving his previous college to take the opportunity for a full ride. Mines is a small institution with a little over 2,200 students — but they are some of the brightest students one will meet.
Feather River College is located in Quincy, California. This is where Cowart was studying when the Hardrocker coaching staff came to visit him after being impressed with his football tapes. Cowart was flown out for a visit to Rapid City and soon fell in love with the city and the team.
“The family environment on the team was the most important reason that I signed here,” he said. Now, two years later, he routinely hangs out in the athletic department with the staff who push and support him both on and off the field.
Cowart has made the most of his time in Rapid city. A typical day for the senior starts at 5:30 a.m. He then takes off to the campus where he meets with the team for training at 6:30 a.m.
After this he gets ready and will head off to class where he will spend the rest of his morning and afternoon. The evening will then be spent doing homework, eating dinner, playing Madden or Call of Duty and getting to bed so he can get ready for the same routine the next day.
Jan. 11-15 was the Dream Bowl, located in Virginia at the Salem Football Stadium. Providing meals and facilities, along with other accommodations, for seniors across the country in NCAA Division II and III schools, the event is an all-star showcase.
Cowart was invited and played on the Patriots. This was a huge deal for not only himself, but also the university. Cowart proved this by bringing along his school work. He mentions that although he had to miss some days of class, all of his professors were extremely encouraging and worked with him. They even gave him extensions on some deadlines after his computer broke down while being gone.
Although it has been a dream to play football at the professional level, Cowart says he was very surprised when Beyond Sports Network reached out to invite him to the National Scouting Combine Feb. 26-28 in Indianapolis.
“I am very excited to be invited. It feels like a lot of weight has been lifted off of my shoulders," he said. "A lot of people overlook me because of my size, so it was a sigh of relief to see that somebody recognized my ability and is giving me an opportunity to compete.”
This particular scouting combine, which began in 2010, is yet another opportunity for the senior to get his name out. As an exclusive “invite only” event, this is the bridge that brings players to professional coaches. Cowart explains that the event is only for seniors that are draft eligible.
The combine tests all players at a professional level so coaches can see their full potential, and most drills mirror those of the NFL Combine. Scouts and the media will be readily available and can reach out to speak with players that they have a strong interest in.
The main goal for BSN (Beyond Sports Network) is for all the athletes to possibly secure a place on a professional team. After the testing of the athletes is over, BSN will organize player profiles and list them on their website. They also send the profiles out to the suitable professional personnel all around the world. This gives every player a unique advantage to start getting professional teams familiar with their name and work.
It is hard to not get excited and start dreaming big when you have opportunities like these keep coming at you. One doesn’t get this far without putting in the proper work and it is starting to show for Cowart. During the summer when most students head back home, he stayed behind to workout and go over film with the coaches. He used his break time to figure out how he can improve his performance for the next season.
Cowart had certain rituals before he played.
The old school R&B music is to help ease his nerves. He uses that music to help him relax and chill out before the game. The more up-beat rap music is put on right before the game to get him pumped up. Lastly, the gold teeth he pops in before the game is something everyone on the team, including the coaches, love. That was one ritual he did not expect the coaches to enjoy. After putting the gold teeth in for one game and playing his best, he decided to keep wearing them for all future games.
The big dream and end goal for Cowart is to play football professionally. However, he also wants to continue school. He says that even if he ends up on a team, he will continue to find a school so he can get his degree somewhere.
Until then, one can find Cowart hanging out at M Hill on a good weather day. The hill has many trails with an area located on top and is known for its huge “SMD” letters painted on the side for the whole city to see. When it’s colder out, Cowart can be found at Jump Craze, an inside building with trampolines all over the floor so one can jump to their hearts desire.
However, there is no fear within Cowart that he will not be successful in life — either in football or engineering — and he says both will make him happy.