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Southfield, Mich., defensive end Malik McDowell has five official visits planned over the next two months. He took the first of those trips out to Alabama this past weekend.
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"It was just an overall good visit," McDowell said. "I (saw) how good of a guy Nick Saban was. I spent most of my time with him. When I got there we ate dinner with him and the next day… I ate lunch and dinner with him, so we talked a lot.
Saban is one of the most televised and well-known head coaches in college football, but McDowell did not go into last weekend's visit with any pre-conceived ideas on the Alabama head man.
"I don't really watch football, so I don't really know how he is on TV," McDowell said. "I just know he is a good guy overall. We really just talked about academics and life after football and making it into the NFL."
Alabama has been one of the most prolific producers of NFL talent in the last decade-plus, and that fact was a frequent topic of conversation on McDowell's visit.
"They pretty much said I was going to have the best chance (at Alabama) to make it to the NFL because coaches know Nick Saban so well and is so well known for bringing in good players and developing them into pro players," McDowell said.
McDowell made the visit to Tuscaloosa solo, but did not feel out of his element during his weekend in Alabama.
"It didn't feel much different. I think because it was cold when I was down there," McDowell said. "When I was down there it didn't feel like I was away from home, to tell you the truth."
Four more schools are set to host McDowell on official visits before National Signing Day and a total of seven schools are still in the running for his services, but the visit to Alabama has the Crimson Tide in good position heading down the stretch.
"They are a strong contender," McDowell said.
The three official visits McDowell will take in January will be to Florida State (Jan. 17), LSU (Jan. 24) and Ohio State (Jan. 31). He also may take unofficial visits to the two in-state contenders on his list - Michigan and Michigan State. But first, the nation's No. 33 ranked prospect will take an official visit to Florida this upcoming weekend.
"It will just be seeing the campus, really, and seeing the environment," McDowell said. "I have been to Florida before, but haven't been to Gainesville."
A steady stream of college coaches have been through McDowell's school this week. On Tuesday he welcomed Ohio State assistants Mike Vrabel and Kerry Coombs. Michigan State assistant Brad Salem stopped through the school on Monday.
Josh Helmholdt is the Midwest Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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