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By NANCY MORGAN, Times Sports Correspondent
Published November 4, 2007
Since Ryan Fowler Seminole graduated from Duke in 2004, he says he has been living his dream.
Then Duke's career leader in tackles for loss was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. Fowler began his NFL career playing primarily on special teams with some spots at middle linebacker.
In March, Fowler was signed by the Tennessee Titans and is the team's starting middle linebacker. He also plays on special teams.
In last week's 13-9 win over the Oakland Raiders, Fowler made five tackles to help raise the Titans' record to 5-2 heading into today's game with the Carolina Panthers.
"I'm doing what I can to help the team and get my teammates' respect," said Fowler, 25. "My goal is to play in the NFL until they tell me to leave.
"We started last season 0-5 but we finished strong. That's carried into this season and we've built on that. Last year we were last in the league stopping the run and this year we're first."
As one of Duke's star players, Fowler was a two-year team captain, two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference player and earned freshman All-America honors.
Fowler's rise to the Titans' starting middle linebacker spot was not always a smooth one. After signing with Dallas in April 2004 and playing two games on special teams, Fowler was released within a month, re-signed to the practice squad and then was inactive for 10 games. The next year brought more playing time and a couple of starts.
Last year, Fowler played in all 16 of Dallas' games, leading the special teams with 24 tackles. Mixed in was a back injury that required extensive rehab. A determined Fowler resolved to move past that obstacle, which resulted in his returning to the Cowboys' active roster.
"That was definitely frustrating," Fowler said of his injury. "As an undrafted free agent, you only get so many chances and you have to make the most of them."
MORE FOOTBALL: Miami sophomore Colin McCarthy (Clearwater Central Catholic) was named Atlantic Coast Conference player of the week after his performance in the 37-29 win over FSU. The linebacker also recovered a fumble and ran 27 yards for a touchdown.
- Receiver Ferrell McGhee (St. Petersburg) has started the past seven games for Missouri Western State. The sophomore has 193 yards on 12 catches, including three touchdowns.
- In eight games, Jock Sanders (St. Petersburg Catholic) is averaging 6 yards rushing per game for West Virginia and 5.6 receiving. In the Mountaineers' 31-3 win over Rutgers, the freshman wide receiver caught one pass for 6 yards.
- Defensive lineman Parker Miles (Countryside) had two sacks and three tackles in Richmond's 38-6 win over Rhode Island. Miles and defensive back Derek Hatcher (Berkeley Prep) of St. Petersburg each have 18 tackles overall.
SOCCER: Senior midfielder Drew Ford (St. Petersburg) posted two assists for Columbia in its 4-3 come-from-behind win over Lehigh.
- Kelly Brinkman (Palm Harbor University) was named Atlantic Sun player of the week after her goal and assist for East Tennessee State.
SWIMMING: Katie Kastes (Countryside) was named Southeastern Conference freshman of the week after posting three wins for Arkansas over North Texas. The freshman followed up with a win in the 200-yard freestyle in a meet with Denver and Utah.
- Twins Claire and Christine Thompson (Admiral Farragut) are freshman swimmers at South Carolina. In the Gamecocks' season opener with Virginia Tech, Claire won the 500 and 200 free events; Christine the 1,000 free.
Against LSU, Claire won the 200, 500 and 1,000 free events.
News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.
[Last modified November 3, 2007, 22:15:23]