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Football: Graduating, improving important to Dowling

As Virginia's official athletic Web site reported last week, Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling is returning for his senior season. I had a chance to catch up with Dowling this afternoon, and the Cavaliers cornerback said that the opportunity to graduate and refine specific skills were at the forefront of his decision to return.

Dowling did not want to share the draft grade he received from the NFL's advisory committee, although he said "it was pretty good." He also considered the NFL's labor negotiations and a possible restructuring of rookie salaries. The opportunity to return as a senior trumped those considerations.

Dowling is a few credits from graduating, which he will be able to do by returning. He also wants to work on his tackling, reaction time and leadership skills. Dowling will have the biggest name of anyone on the Cavaliers' roster next season and will be looked upon as one of the leaders on the team.

His familiarity with Coach Mike London helped with the decision, as did the retention of assistant coach Anthony Poindexter. Poindexter faced the same decision as Dowling, elected to return and ended up suffering a knee injury that plagued his NFL career. This came up in conversations with Poindexter, who supported Dowling's decision "100 percent."

"When it all boils down to it, I want to be happy," Dowling said. "I want to be happy with my decision and have no regrets for my senior year. You don’t want to look back at it and say, 'I should have left', and I'll have no regrets."

By Zach Berman  |  January 7, 2010; 2:53 PM ET
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