NASHVILLE – Colton Dowell grew up just down the road from Music City.
As a youngster growing up in Lebanon, Tennessee, Dowell built forts with his older brother, Coleby, and they'd chop down trees in the woods with their dad and sell firewood. He once worked as an usher at a movie theater.
Dowell also played football, beginning with Pop Warner, then at Wilson Central High and finally at Tennessee-Martin.
All the while, through work and play, he kept his NFL dream alive.
On Saturday, the Titans selected the Tennessee-Martin receiver in the seventh round the NFL Draft, making his life-long dream come true.
"It awesome," Dowell said. "I can't explain the feeling, because I've never felt this before. But it is awesome, it's awesome. My phone has been buzzing in my pocket the whole time after they announced that pick. I have talked to old coaches, a couple of old teammates, high school teammates, everybody – they have all been hitting me up.
"It's a blessing. Being drafted by them is a dream come true."
Dowell, selected with the 228th overall pick, took part in a local pro day at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park earlier this month.
On that day, he wondered what it would be like to be picked by the Titans. He'd actually been to the facility in the past to watch training camp practices.
"It was cool to see the practice facility on the inside," Dowell said. "Me and my dad, we'd always try and get up there on the summer when they're going through training camp. It was cool to see the inside, and while I was there I definitely envisioned myself playing there, and putting on that two-tone blue.
"I would describe myself as a Titans fan, especially seeing what coach (Mike) Vrabel has done these past years running the team. I definitely consider myself a Titans fan, been to a couple of games."
In his final season at UT-Martin in 2022, Dowell caught 67 passes for 1,036 yards and six touchdowns. Dowell had six 100-yard games in 2022, including a seven-catch, 112-yard performance against Tennessee in October.
Dowell (6-3, 212) was a two-time All-OVC first team performer at UTM. He holds the school's all-time receiving yards mark at the school with 2,796 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Now he hopes to make a mark with the Titans.
"(The Titans) told me I could come in there and carve my role in their offense, and on their team, with hard work," Dowell said. "And I bought into that – I am a hard-working guy. It's up to me how far I go."
The Titans selected Tennessee-Martin receiver Colton Dowell in the seventh round of Saturday's NFL Draft.