Derek Dowrey came to Penn State at a time of change, a member of the first post-Paterno recruiting classes for the Nittany Lions, choosing Penn State over. He was recruited and signed as a defensive lineman, and played at that position while redshirting in 2012 and then as a freshman in eligibility in 2013.
As a sophomore, Dowrey was one of a few players chosen by James Franklin to switch to the offensive side of the ball once the coach took over due to a lack of quality players on the offensive line as a result of the recruiting sanctions on the program. He started one game his first season on the offensive side of the ball, and provided much-needed depth; he continued that role in the two following seasons, starting nearly half of the team’s games in each of his redshirt junior and senior campaigns.
While the line got flack from some, throughout his years Dowrey’s versatility and ability to go where the team needed him most helped lead almost directly to the eventual turn around of the program, culminating in winning the Big Ten title in Dowrey’s final season of eligibility.