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Lowery is that good for Spartans

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

When cornerback Dwight Lowery showed up for fall practice at San Jose State last season, coach Dick Tomey knew his new cornerback was good, but not that good.

Without the benefit of spring ball to get acclimated to the Spartans’ system, Lowery went out and intercepted nine passes to lead the much-improved San Jose State defense. His splash into college football reminded Tomey of Chris McAlister, who played for Tomey at Arizona.

“He (Lowery) was amazing,” Tomey said at the recent WAC Media Day in San Jose, Calif. “A year ago, he wasn’t even in the program. He came in with no spring practice.

“I had a player named Chris McAlister (at Arizona and now in the NFL), and he came in, and I had him second or third team. My assistants would ask me how long we were going to do this because you could tell he was that good. We moved him over to the first defense.”

McAlister has gone on to a nice career in the NFL, and Lowery, if he plays anywhere close to his 2006 form, will be a high draft pick.

Lowery, who likes Shawn Taylor because of his physical play and Champ Bailey because of his coverage ability, doesn’t worry much about the NFL. He has his sights set on performing well in the 2007 season.

“The best thing about Dwight has nothing to do with interceptions,” Tomey said. “It’s his serious practice habits, the way he competes and studies the game of football. He’s as serious as a heart attack with everything he does.”

Former teammate John Broussard probably paid Lowery the ultimate compliment recently after finding out that Lowery was tabbed as a preseason All-American. According to Tomey, Broussard said that Lowery made the receivers better because of his practice work ethic.

Chalk that up to the work ethic Tomey keeps harping on. Lowery appreciates the compliments.

“I don’t think I played up to my potential,” Lowery said. “I’m excited to go out there and improve. There are so many things I have to do to get better as a football player. There is no way I’m satisfied.

“I’m consistently trying to get better. Everything we do I try to put everything into it.”

That means practice, games and meetings. Lowery only knows one way to play the game – all out.

“It seems like he got an interception every game,” linebacker Matt Castelo said. “He had such a big impact from the beginning of the season. Teams may not want to test him this year and go to the other side.”

Lowery intercepted passes in five of San Jose State’s first six games, including three in a 17-7 win over Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. His interception in the 35-34 win over Stanford thwarted a possible go-ahead touchdown.

Teams did seem to steer away from Lowery in the second half of the season. Chris Owens, his running mate at the other corner, had his four interceptions in the final five games of the season.

In general, Lowery was just pleased to be able to talk to reporters. Two days before spring practice, Lowery suffered a broken jaw.

“A running back ran over him,” Tomey said. “He wouldn’t want me to say that. There was a collision and he got the worst of it.”

“He (the running back) got his helmet underneath my facemask,” Lowery said. “I was running half speed and he was running full speed.”

Lowery had his jaw wired shut for seven weeks, surviving on a liquid diet.

“It was frustrating,” Lowery said. “Nobody understood what I was saying because you can’t open your mouth.”

Lowery still had his jaw wired shut when he flew to Phoenix for the Playboy All-American shoot. Nothing more frustrating because he still couldn’t eat solid food and wine and dine with his fellow gridiron standouts.

Now, Lowery has regained any weight loss and he’s ready to go. Quarterbacks and wide receivers beware.