It’s often a dilemma for those few chosen high school seniors who have become highly recruited athletes: While most of their friends are out enjoying a final year of limited responsibility, the athlete is trying to make the best choice for his or her future.

Such is the case for Covington High School defensive tackle Garrald McDowell, who already has been offered a football scholarship to LSU, just one of several schools to do so. He also is being recruited by the likes of Miami (Fla.), Oklahoma, Southern California, Florida and Alabama.

McDowell, 6-foot-1, 260 pounds, said he isn’t sure which school he’ll chooset, but he isn’t letting this “dilemma” get to him. Instead, he said, “I’m definitely more excited about my future; that’s all I think about.”

His future looks very bright.

ESPN ranks McDowell as the ninth-best recruit at his position, the 11th-best overall prospect in the state and 108th nationally.

Last season for the Lions, who finished 6-4 last season and 4-2 in District 6-5A, McDowell made 84 tackles, including 181/2 for loss and 101/2 sacks. Heading into this season with Greg Salter taking over for Malter Scobel as head coach, McDowell will anchor a top-notch defensive line.

“I’m very fortunate, and (McDowell) creates a lot of problems for the opposition,” Salter said. “Obviously, our linebackers and secondary will benefit from him, so we couldn’t ask for anything more.

“We have another one on the other end with a relentless motor in (senior) Broderick Bankston. If McDowell is 1A, Bankston is 1B.”

As far as where McDowell is headed, Salter said, “We’re just here for guidance. Once (college coaches) draw that interest from films and things like that, it gets turned over to the kid and his family. We try to give them whatever advice we can without pushing them one way or another.”

McDowell, meanwhile, is thinking about more than just college. He knows that the SEC has made its name in football by winning championships and turning defensive linemen into starters in the NFL. Without question, that will be part of his decision-making process, he said.

“I watch SEC football every Saturday. I watch Florida, Alabama, LSU; I watch them all,” he said. “They shoot a lot of players to the NFL, and that’s what I want. I have a lot more to look forward to.”

Along with guidance from the Covington coaching staff, he also has received the same from a former teammate. McDowell said he closely watches and maintains a relationship with Otha Peters, who had a successful 2012 season at Arkansas as a redshirt freshman linebacker.

Peters was one of the state’s top recruits two years ago, and seeing how that process went only pushed McDowell harder.

“Otha and I were very close, and when he comes home, we make it a point to chill together,” he said. “I ask him about all this, and he gives me plenty of advice. It’s strange, because back then, I didn’t expect this at all.

“Now, I get at least three phone calls a day and letters from all over the place. I’m just glad it came. Coach Malter kept telling me I was going to be a D-I recruit if I kept working hard, and I put in 110 percent every day.”