Now that his college football career is over, Josh Downs is pursuing his college degree and an opportunity to play in the NFL.
While many players with NFL aspirations take a semester off from school to focus on enhancing their draft status, Downs is finishing up his school work and is on schedule to receive his degree in sports administration when LSU holds its spring commencement exercises in May.
“I'm still working out and going back and forth to school,” Downs said. “If I get drafted, great, but I want to make sure I have my degree and have something to fall back on.”
Downs' major emphasizes the leadership aspect of sports administration.
“I'm in the business side of sports, which involves event management,” Downs said. “Of course, I want to play some more football before I get into that.”
Downs played in the Raycom All-Star Classic in Montgomery, Ala. on Jan. 19.
“It went real well, I thought,” Downs said. “It was a great opportunity and I had a great time.”
Downs says the three months away from contact has given him time to get healthy.
“I'm healthy now,” said Downs, who was hindered by a knee injury for much of last season. “I feel like I'm in three times better shape than I was in college. I was banged up a little bit. I think the time off has really helped me.”
Downs was among 20 or so former Tigers to work out for all 32 NFL teams at LSU's recent Pro Day.
Downs bench pressed 225-pounds 33 times — tops among the former LSU players at Pro Day. On the flip side, he was disappointed in his 5.3 time in the 40-yard dash. Previously, he was clocked at 5.12 in the 40.
“I was kind of satisfied with how I did at Pro Day,” Downs said. “but I wish I would have done a little better in the broad (jump) and on my 40. I had some numbers in my head that I wanted to reach as kind of a self-motivating tool.”
Downs said he ran into Rueben Randle, his former Bastrop High and LSU teammate, at Pro Day. A second round pick in the 2012 NFL draft, Randle recently completed his rookie season as a wide receiver with the New York Giants.
“I saw Rueben at Pro Day, but I didn't really get a chance to talk to him,” Downs said. “He was mainly there to motivate us.”
A four-year letterman for the Tigers, Downs broke into the starting lineup as a senior. Turning in 19 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, the 6-1, 290-pounder helped the Tigers to a 10-3 record and a Chick-fil-A berth last season.
Page 2 of 2 - Seeing action as a true freshman, Downs played in 48 career games for the Tigers.
“I had a few injuries, but I was more than fortunate to get to start my senior year,” Downs said. “It was a great opportunity and a great experience and I wouldn't change it for the world.”
Of 189 draft eligible defensive tackles, Downs is ranked 46th by nfldraftscout.com.
The NFL draft begins with the first round on Thursday, April 25, followed by rounds 2-3 on April 26 and concluding with rounds 4-7 on April 27.
Downs says he is unsure of his draft prospectus.
“Honestly, I have no earthly idea what to expect,” Downs said. “I haven't talked to any (NFL) scouts about it.”
Downs began his high school football career at Delta, starting in the eighth and ninth grade.
Transferring to Bastrop when Morehouse Parish's two public schools merged in 2006, Downs made an instant impact, earning Class 4A All-State honors while helping the Rams to their second of three consecutive state championships.
Moving to defensive tackle a year later, Downs was a two-time All-State selection on the defensive side, helping the Rams to the 2007 state title and a 2008 semifinal berth.