Cass Tech OL David Dawson is one in a long line of Technicians who have pledged to become Wolverines, including his junior teammate Jourdan Lewis. He's also one of five four-star offensive linemen in Michigan's 2013 class, with the versatility to play anywhere along the line. I got the chance to catch up with David yesterday to discuss his commitment, the Cass Tech pipeline, where he'll play as a freshman, and more:
ACE: What made you decide you wanted to commit?
DAVID: I committed because I had been up there three or four times before I had been offered. My mom liked the academics and I felt at home. That was about it. The coaches were down-to-earth, it wasn't like they were trying to be fake or anything. It helped that our cornerback [Jourdan "J.D." Lewis] committed, so that was good.
ACE: Having you and Jourdan commit seemingly within minutes of each other, how did that go down, and how did it play a factor in your decision?
DAVID: We were joking about it earlier that day, saying "do you want to commit?" Stuff like that. They pulled me into an office with Coach Hoke and I sat down and talked with him for about 5-10 minutes. He offered me and I told I want to commit, and then he hops up yelling and everything, Coach Jackson came in. We called [Jourdan's] name, and about a minute later they were screaming out the back, walking in smiling, saying he committed too. That was just a great day.
ACE: What else set Michigan apart from the other schools you were looking at?
DAVID: Like I said, it would be academics. Everyone always says not everyone goes to the league, so the academic part was a big part. Then the possibility of working with a lot of the high-caliber guys that we're bringing in right now who are going to be there when I get there, that also played a big part in my decision.
ACE: You mentioned coming in with those high-caliber guys in your class. It seems like you guys have really made a pretty strong connection, obviously being there for that huge visit weekend and then over social media. What's it like to be part of a class that's already so tight-knit—and also so talented—this early?
DAVID: It feels great. We were on that Recruiting Nation show, and I saw that a couple of weeks ago. I like that we target the offensive line a lot, we pulled in five four-stars, that's always great. There's Shane [Morris], a good quarterback, and we've got a couple guys from the city who are going up there, plus a couple guys from Ohio. It just feels great to be a part of this class.
ACE: Michigan already has five offensive linemen, including yourself, committed in the class. What have the coaches told you about where they see you playing at the next level, and where do you think you fit in best along the offensive line?
DAVID: Coach Hoke was saying that I could play right tackle or they looked at me at guard, but he says when I get there they'll put me at right tackle and see how it works out there because he likes my athleticism and my feet. I guess when I get there we'll see.
ACE: Coming from Cass Tech, that's obviously a pretty huge Michigan pipeline. Are you excited to be back at Cass and rejoining your old teammates this year?
DAVID: Definitely. It'll be good playing another year with these guys, before going off to college I'll be playing with J.D. and [Kenton] Gibbs and everybody, then going off to college I'll be back up there with Delonte [Hollowell], Terry [Richardson], and Royce [Jenkins-Stone].
ACE: You mentioned a few of your former teammates that are now at Michigan. Did you talk to those guys at all when you were making your decision? Did they help you at all coming to your choice?
DAVID: Yeah. It was great; they didn't pressure me, but they said if that's where you want to go, there's no point in waiting and stuff like that. Royce and I talked a couple times before I made my commitment. I told him I wanted to commit and he didn't believe me, so when I did he was just like, "congrats," and he still didn't believe me until I saw him up there at school.
ACE: You guys have a pretty high standard up there at Cass Tech after coming off a state championship last year. What's the expectation this year for the team and for you personally?
DAVID: For myself, personally, just to finish a strong year, possibly get into one of the All-American bowls. From a team standpoint, we should just focus on our first game in Brother Rice on August 25th, then we can take it week-by-week, but ultimately we'll be playing at Ford Field in Week 14.
ACE: After spending the last year down in Texas, what was it like having that experience for a year and what's different about high school football down there versus back up in Michigan?
DAVID: Being down there, they work more on your football IQ. We had class down there, we'd watch film all the time, we watched film of us practicing—they'd film practice and we'd go and watch film of what we did that day. The coaches taught technique every day and then you'd play against high-caliber athletes week-in and week-out. It's somewhat different than Michigan. We have high-caliber athletes up here but there's a lot down there. That's what I think separates Texas and Michigan.
ACE: Heading into this year, you're already going to be playing—there's already Khalid Hill from Detroit Crockett committed. What's it like not only having a Michigan commit on your own team, but competing against future teammates as opponents before you head off to college?
DAVID: I played against Khalid my sophomore year, when we played them for the district championship, I think. I got to block him when I was there at that time. Senior year I just can't wait for us to line up until the end, then we'll line up and shake hands because we can't wait to go to college. But right now we're focused on another state championship for Cass, so anybody that's in the way has just gotta deal with it.
ACE: Going back to your recruitment and talking about the coaches real quick, what set Michigan's coaching staff apart from the other coaches you were dealing with?
DAVID: Like I said before, when I go up there, it's not like they're putting on a show. You see what you get. That's how they act. I felt comfortable because Coach Funk, that's going to be my position coach for the next four to five years, so that played a big part in it. Then Coach Hoke, he's just a down-to-earth guy, he's very cool, and I just felt like I was at home up there at Michigan. Everything played out.
ACE: When you come to Michigan, what do you bring to the table? What do you think are your biggest strengths as a player and what are you working on before you get to the next level?
DAVID: I bring my aggressiveness, footwork, strength, and my run blocking skills to the table. I just need to work more on pass blocking. Also footwork, you can never work enough on footwork, so that's something I'll want to improve before I get there. I'm very coachable; Coach Funk will tell me something once and I'll do it. They also tell me I have a good mean streak. I just like to play football.
ACE: Sum up in a few words what stood out about Michigan, what your choice ultimately came down to.
DAVID: I felt at home up there. The coaches are down-to-earth, the academics, and they're bringing in the high-caliber athletes that they're bringing in. That played a big part in my decision.