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CU Buffs signee Owen McCown put trust in Karl Dorrell

After big senior year, Rusk (Texas) High School QB eager to join Buffaloes in 2022

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Quarterback Owen McCown starred at Rusk (Texas) High School as a senior in 2021. McCown signed a letter of intent to play with the Colorado Buffaloes beginning in 2022. (Photo provided by Jessica T. Payne/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Earlier this month, Owen McCown was prepared to sign his letter of intent with Colorado, despite some uncertainty with the coaching staff.

At the time, CU didn’t have an offensive coordinator and that led to some unknown about who would coach the Buffs’ quarterbacks in 2022. McCown, a Rusk (Texas) High School star quarterback, didn’t waver in his commitment and signed his NLI on Dec. 15.

“(Dorrell’s) biggest thing was just to trust him,” McCown said.

For McCown, that wasn’t too difficult because his trust in Dorrell has played a role throughout the recruiting process.

“I trust coach Dorrell a lot, so I know he’ll pick the right guy,” McCown said.

CU has since hired former Minnesota offensive coordinator Mike Sanford to lead the Buffs’ offense. It’s unclear who will coach the quarterbacks, however. Quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf, who has built a strong relationship with McCown, is still on CU’s staff, but Sanford has coached quarterbacks throughout his career, as well.

McCown didn’t need a position coach in place to feel good about his decision, however. He received a scholarship offer from CU in January, committed in March and hasn’t wavered since.

“One big thing is Colorado was on me before my senior year and before I really had a good senior year,” he said. “So I think that was most important to me and that’s when I knew Colorado was the one.”

It didn’t hurt that McCown’s father has high regard for Dorrell. Josh McCown played quarterback in the NFL for 19 seasons, from 2002-20. Dorrell was one of his coaches briefly in 2008 with the Miami Dolphins and for two years (2017-18) with the New York Jets.

Owen has learned a lot about the position from his father but didn’t break out until this past season.

Quarterback Owen McCown starred at Rusk (Texas) High School as a senior in 2021. McCown signed a letter of intent to play with the Colorado Buffaloes beginning in 2022. (Photo provided by Jessica T. Payne/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

During McCown’s first two years of high school, the family lived in North Carolina and he backed up Drake Maye, a four-star prospect who now plays at North Carolina. Last year, the McCowns moved to Rusk and Owen finally got a chance to start. He threw for 1,080 yards and nine touchdowns while adding 270 yards and eight touchdowns as a runner.

As a senior this year, he completed 67.5 percent of his passes for 3,362 yards, 36 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He added a team-high 371 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Last week, he was named the District 10-4A Division II All-District offensive MVP. McCown’s brother, junior receiver Aiden, was third on the team in receptions (38) and receiving yards (707).

“It was a lot of fun,” McCown said of his final season at Rusk. “Obviously, I got to throw to my younger brother, so that was amazing. That was an experience like no other. Obviously, the goal is to win a state championship and we came a little short. We were proud of where we made it.

“I think my last high school pass was a touchdown completion of my younger brother. So I think that’s something me and him will always have. It was so much fun.”

Beyond the numbers, McCown believes he grew as a quarterback through the experience and the lessons from his father.

“I think every game I took a different step in preparing,” he said. “Knowing the game, knowing where I’m going with the football pre-snap and then after the ball is snapped. Just every game I feel like I get better at that. I feel like I got more accurate this year.”

As McCown put up big numbers, he gained a bit more attention from college recruiters, but he always told them he was going to Boulder.

“Some reached out after my senior year, but when (CU) knew before my senior year that they liked me, that really stood out to me and it was definitely the determining factor,” he said.

Before getting to CU, the 6-foot-1, 175-pound McCown is working on getting stronger and he hopes for a growth spurt, but he believes in his ability.

“Nowadays with smaller quarterbacks, I think if you can throw, you can throw it,” he said. “That’s one thing me and my dad talked about.”

Where McCown fits on the depth chart next season remains to be seen. He is currently playing basketball at Rusk and will arrive in Boulder this summer. That will put him behind the competition, which includes incumbent starter Brendon Lewis.

Junior JT Shrout, who missed the 2021 season with a knee injury, true sophomore Drew Carter and redshirt freshman Maddox Kopp, who recently announced his decision to transfer from Houston, will also compete, as well. True freshman Oakie Salave’a will also be in the mix this spring.

When McCown arrives, he said he’ll be ready to compete and see where he lands.

“What I’ve learned from coach Dorrell, he’s gonna play the best player,” McCown said. “Whatever he’s gonna do is gonna be best for the team. He said it with me, if I’m ready to go my freshman year and I can help the team and then we’ll do that. If I need to wait a year or two years or even three years, really whatever helps the team. I think that’s what he preached the most about (in recruiting).”

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