Jeromy McDowell's college football career began with so much promise as he set a Southeast Missouri State University freshmen-passing record in 2001.
But all the injuries McDowell endured over the past several years -- which forced him to miss most of the last two seasons -- ultimately caught up to him.
When the Indians begin spring practice Saturday at Houck Stadium, McDowell won't be on the field. He has decided to not use his final season of eligibility because of lingering shoulder problems.
"That's basically it, all the injuries," McDowell said. "I just kind of decided this was best."
McDowell, a three-time all-state quarterback at North County High School, came to Southeast amid much fanfare. After redshirting in 2000, he threw for 2,051 yards in 2001 -- the most ever by a Southeast freshman --despite suffering a serious knee injury early in the season that eventually required surgery. His shoulder also gave him plenty of problems that year.
McDowell played in the 2002 season opener -- coming off the bench to rally the Indians to victory -- before again going down with a serious knee injury that required surgery and forced him to miss the rest of the campaign.
While McDowell was having knee problems, troubles with his throwing shoulder also persisted, forcing him to have two surgeries on that part of his body as well. He played in four games last season as a junior, throwing for 453 yards, before once again being forced to the sidelines because of the shoulder.
"I don't know, it's just not 100 percent and there's no way to get around it," McDowell said, referring to the shoulder. "I've been rehabbing it for a long time, even past rehabbing it. It'll feel good one moment, but when I throw for a period of time it's just not right."
McDowell said he has mixed emotions about giving up a sport he has played -- and excelled at -- ever since he was a child.
"I'm obviously disappointed not being around my teammates, my best friends, being there to support them, and the coaches," he said. "On the other hand, I've been battling injuries for so long, it'll be nice to take a step in another direction. And I'll still go to practices and games, supporting them all I can, and rooting for them."
McDowell, a business management major who is scheduled to graduate in December, said he sometimes thinks about how good his career might have been had he stayed healthy. But those thoughts don't last long.
"I don't like to dwell in the past, I like to look to the future," he said.
Dorsainvil, Robinson leaveAlong with All-American cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who left the program following last season and will play his final college season at Division II Tuskegee, two other players who saw extensive action last year are no longer with the team.
Backup tailback Bobby Dorsainvil, who rushed for 328 yards as a redshirt freshman -- second-most on the team -- and junior Taurean Robinson, a part-time starter on the offensive line, both left the program.
Robinson plans to join Patterson at Tuskegee in Robinson's native state of Alabama. It is not known if Dorsainvil will continue his college football career.
"Every year you're going to have some people leave your program," head coach Tim Billings said. "We wish them the best."
Billings also said that Jackson High School product Matt McComas, a defensive lineman who redshirted last season as a freshman, has decided to give up football.
"We're glad to have him with us," Billings said.