Only a sophomore, Ethan Downs is already the nucleus of the University of Oklahoma football team but his endgame is so much more than football.
Downs is an Osage tribal member from Weatherford, Okla., and the first of his family to attend college on scholarship and to play a collegiate sport. Downs’ college decision was made easy when his dream school recruited him while he was only in the 10th grade.
Downs is a starting player as the defensive end, he’s acted as the team captain for numerous games this past season, and was chosen as the ambassador of the team by the OU football staff.
“Our team is focused on the pillars of character instead of just being a jock. It’s about communication and creating relationships and connections— to have jobs in the future, to make an impact on society, and to be more than a football player,” Downs said.
“So I was chosen as the ambassador to represent that program. I focus heavily on serving others— I want to be known for my joy and giving back to my community.”
Downs seeks to utilize his platform as a leader to motivate and inspire people to believe in themselves.
“I know it sounds mushy gushy, but it’s something I value,” he said.
Recent philanthropic work hit near and dear to Downs’ heart when he volunteered as a camp counselor for a week-long camp at the OU Children’s Hospital for terminally ill patients. Downs described that the relationship he had with his best friend Skylar, who died from cancer when they were in high school, inspired Downs to get involved with the Children’s Hospital.
“It’s a time for the kids to live with no stress, or judgment, or worries about being sick, but just living life and having fun,” he said.
Downs believes that his time playing football and any titles as captain and ambassador are all fleeting because what truly matters is the differences he’s able to make in other’s lives.
“I won’t regret the opinions of other people, I will regret my own, though,” he said.
Downs’ current priority is his wedding planned this July, where the legacy he plans to make is as a husband and future father. As far as a career in the National Football League, Downs says he would love to make an impact for the NFL as a voice and to further serve the underprivileged.
Recently, Downs was announced as one of the 26 finalists for The Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup Award because of his philanthropic work at the Children’s Hospital and for his work as a Student Leader with The Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The Citizenship Cup is a scholarship awarded to six athletes from any sport, collegiate or professional, who best display character, teamwork, and citizenship deemed central to transforming individuals, sport, and society. The national award establishes the recipients as athletes of excellence both on and off the field and as role models.
The Citizenship Cup will announce winners this January.