2013 Recruiting: Reon Dawson Comment Count

Brian May 6th, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Previously: Last year's pile.

Our annual kickoff reminder about what "You May Remember Me From Such Players As" is: a playing-style comparison, not a projection. If player X works out, he'll probably remind you of player Y. Player Y is usually pretty good since he's had a successful-enough career that you probably have an idea of what he plays like.

Trotwood, OH – 6'2", 175

Reon Dawson 3[1]

Scout 3*, #42 CB
Rivals 3*, UR ATH, #52 OH
ESPN 3*, 77, #41 CB
24/7 3*, #87 CB, #58 OH
Other Suitors Arizona, Pitt, UVA, Purdue, Illinois, Cinci, WVU
YMRMFSPA Chris Gamble?
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Trotwood-Madison (Roundtree, Shaw, Moore, classmate McCray). Cousin of Dermontti Dawson. Twitter.


Junior highlights:

Here is his hudl page as well, which has senior stuff.

Are you a large human? If so, large human, I have good news for you. Michigan is going to recruit you.

Reon Dawson kicks off this year's recruiting profile series because 1) for whatever reason I've always started from the DBs and worked my way towards quarterback and 2) it seems thematically appropriate to kick things off with one of three(!) 6'2" cornerbacks Michigan brought in, now that Dymonte Thomas is threatening to start at nickel. Since Dawson was a 1-for-1 replacement of Gareon Conley, another 6'2" player Michigan wanted to bring in at corner, Dawson is the most thematically appropriate player of the three. Michigan is going to be big, everywhere, and if their original plans are thwarted they'll go get a similarly big plan B, in fact the kind of Plan B that causes Ohio recruiting analysts to compare him to the plan A($).

As far as Dawson goes, he is large, fast clay for Mallory to shape into a cornerback. Like seemingly every wide receiver Michigan's bringing in for 2014, Dawson thought his meal ticket would be basketball and came up a few inches short. As a result, you can put him in the "raw" pile($):

“I didn’t play my freshman year because I thought I was going to go to college for basketball or track.  I really didn’t play my sophomore year.  I got in a couple games, but junior year was when I really stepped on the scene with Cam and all of them.  They really made me better because going against them every day.  You’ve got to get better or you’re going to be on the sideline. I’ve got good recovery speed, I’ve got good ball skills, I’m long, and that allows me to check longer receivers.  When I went to Illinois they measured me at 6-2, 175.”

That height and weight is a lot more credible than the 4.39 he supposedly ran at Alabama's camp in his first-ever attempt at a 40 yard dash. Southern speed, man. Also Ohio speed, I guess, as he claimed the same time($) at an OSU camp.

Even if that gets five FAKES on the fake 40 scale, Dawson does get called fast quite a bit. ESPN praises($) his "quick feet, smooth hips and very good top end speed"; Josh Helmholdt's first impression of him($) was "very tall for a cornerback and very fast"; Mark Givler notes his "tremendous top end speed".

In fact, a couple folks called Dawson just about an ideal athlete for defensive back. Givler again:

- Tall, long-armed athlete that fits the mold of what college coaches are looking for in their defensive backs.

- Still very raw in coverage, has a tendency to hesitate before making his breaks.

Notes: Dawson went from a virtual unknown going into last summer to a player that now holds several BCS conference offers. Dawson was a starter and key contributor on Trotwood's state championship team this past fall and has an impressive combination of size and speed. Though he's still a work in progress in coverage, Dawson will likely end up as a defensive back but it would be interesting to see what he could do at wide receiver.

And Allen Trieu:

Tall corner with long arms. Good speed and athleticism. Has good instincts and good ball skills. Is relatively inexperienced and needs to work on his technique and get stronger, which will improve his tackling, although he has been proven to be a reliable open field tackler. High upside guy with ideal physical tools for the position.

247's analysis goes with "excellent physical tools."

[HIT THE JUMP for THE CATCH dangit you probably just want the positive stuff I suck at jumps]

The catch is that playing football stuff. It's de-emphasized in most of these scouting reports, as they tend towards the positive for a lot of reasons, but at the end of most of them the analyst says something that roughly translates to "is the opposite of James Ross." ESPN is the clearest($):

Our concern with Dawson is that he takes false steps in run support, gets caught out of position and does not always look to have great recognition skills as an overall player. His speed and size give him value and he has a chance to develop in time as awareness hopes to improve.

Bizarrely, they spend the rest of their evaluation praising his ability to cover guys and projecting him to… safety, where all of the strengths they say he has are minimized and his deficiencies magnified. I mean…

Shows fluid, smooth footwork carrying vertical routes out of his pedal and zone turn. Reads the quarterback well, anticipates underneath routes and breaks quickly undercutting the ball or closing on receivers with solid contact. Possesses good plant and drive skill. He is a strong and reliable open field tackler who breaks down well in space for a tall corner. Does a good job stepping up and jamming receivers off the line and rerouting patterns. Displays the loose hips needed to mirror the stem when playing off man as well.

They say his speed is just "good, not great," and that is about their only problem with him as a corner. I don't get it.

Anyway, various other analysts hinted at the recognition issues, whether it's "raw/untapped" or "raw" or… well, you get it. Dawson suffered through some injuries, got a late start, and is still evolving into what he might be down the road. This is a flier on a kid; the coaching staff is betting they can mold him into a gem. He did improve quite a bit according to Josh Helmholdt, who caught the last game of his high school career($):

Dawson has come a long way since his junior season, even since last spring when we saw him at the VTO Cincinnati camp. Dawson has always had great speed, and at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds he has great length for the cornerback position, but now he is starting to show the instincts and fluidity to play the spot.

"Come a long way" + "starting to show instincts" == 6'2", 4.4 CB getting three stars everywhere.

You can tell both from Dawson's highlight tape on hudl and a series of quotes he issued in response to the question "what are your goals for improvement?" that his run defense needs major work. He believes he got a lot better($)…

"My main goal my senior season was to tackle better," he said. "I didn't tackle that well last year, but my main goal was to do that and my senior film shows that I did that. My coverage skills got better too. It got a lot more natural. In my first year I had a real learning curve, but my second year I relaxed and just started playing."

…and he probably did, but I'm watching his senior highlights and… it's still an issue. If he's going to be the boundary guy he'll have to improve.

Dawson got early BCS offers from Kentucky, Virginia, and Penn State. By early May he was telling folks that it would most likely come down to Illinois and WVU, and he pulled the trigger on an Illini commitment a couple weeks later. At this point he was still a guy with just one year of varsity experience. Michigan fired out an offer to him about two seconds after Conley committed, whereupon he visited and decided to flip.

Etc.: There was that whole hullabaloo about Dawson being a "Buckeye for life" even after his LOI, which he duly cleared the air about. I am more concerned that Hoke will glare at him for four years than the possibility he is a double agent.

A lot of scouting report negatives included the "must fill out" thing, because it's something they can list as a weakness without sounding too mean. RESOLVED: all mentions of how some high school kid will have to no longer be a high school kid to play are hereby ignored.

Magnus calls him a "high floor, low ceiling" type. Uh?



Maize and Blue News

Why Chris Gamble? Oh man it's about to be give up and punt time on some of these because Michigan has had no cornerbacks approaching the size of this trio in as long as I can remember. Marlin Jackson is probably the closest and he 1) was an absolutely kick-ass run defender, which is not a strength for Dawson at the moment, and 2) he was six-foot-even and thick. He's not a good fit.

So let's wander afield and strike on Chris Gamble, who arrived at OSU a raw wide receiver before making an extremely successful transition to corner. He brought rangy length to the position, coupling it with more-than-occasional coverage busts his sophomore year. He took of as a junior and entered the draft. Dawson hasn't played WR but brings the same rawness and physical ability, at least as far as running in a straight line and having big wavy hands goes.

Guru Reliability: High-minus. Trotwood is a heavily-scouted power, offers seem about in line with random three star, they're all about the same. Ding is not really their fault: this is just inherently a high-variance player.

Variance: High. Classic boom or bust sort. A superior athlete still working out how to play football.

Ceiling: High. A 6'2" corner is swinging for the fences. Speed doesn't seem to be an issue. 

General Excitement Level: Moderate. I think I'm a bit higher on him as part of Michigan's class than the recruiting sites are in general. In the context of the roster he's a roll at an awesome player; he may end up okay; if he just can't hack it safety or WR is a possibility, and if he just doesn't make it on the field M has three other corners in this class to cover it up.

Projection: Redshirt seems obvious. He'll then have an opportunity to apprentice under senior Raymon Taylor, and will compete with Various Artists for the starting boundary job in two years. He'll have the size over everyone save classmate Channing Stribling (and I guess Dymonte Thomas, if they're bold enough to stick him out there), but he'll have to come a long way to start over a ravenous pack that should go six deep. Blake Countess is scheduled to graduate the next year, so he'll have another shot at the apple then. He's both likely to not contribute at all and be great.



May 6th, 2013 at 2:01 PM ^

Is the guy I always forget about. Seriously, I am always suprised when I seem him referenced as a recruit. Having said that, its always a happy suprise. I think he is a great candidate to dissapear for two years, have a small/ part-time role in year three, then  suddenly be a solid starter year four and five. He's got too many skills not to work out somewhere.


May 6th, 2013 at 2:03 PM ^

Man, if Taylor sticks around for his senior year, and Countess leaves after his fourth year as well, it's gonna be an absolute war for those corner spots going into the 2015 season.  We'll have Richardson (senior), Jourdan Lewis, Ross Douglass (who already had a good first spring) plus the developmental prospects who will have probably had time to develop like Dawson and Stribling.  Not counting Thomas in here either if they really want to move him to full time corner.  Then you add in (speculatively) Jabrill Peppers and another corner like Westphal (another 6'2" prospect)...man, gonna be fun watching that shake out.  Hopefully with all that competition, the winners end up being really good...


May 6th, 2013 at 2:03 PM ^

my YMRMFSPA would be morgan trent.  fast, but a bit of straight line speed, thought of as a WR initially, roughly the same height.


May 6th, 2013 at 2:08 PM ^

I am very excited about the size they are bringing all throughout the team. Finally starting to see some Hokes guys and you can tell the difference.


May 6th, 2013 at 2:08 PM ^

I get a errie grin when I see 6'2 CBs, but looking at the film made me frown just a bit. I have strong confidence that the coaching staff/s&c coach will get him where he needs to be by year 2 or 3. Could be very scary at the size!!


May 6th, 2013 at 2:23 PM ^

It seems rare that a guy would be 6'2" and fast without seeing the field.  The coaches will probably find a place for him at some point in his career, whether as a corner or safety or special teamer.  I don't think he has the instincts and fluidity to be an absolute stud, but it would take a serious failure for him not to "make it" in some way, shape, or form.


May 6th, 2013 at 2:56 PM ^

The weak part of our team for years has been the DB play and when that GAS CAN MORGAN TRENT was out there for those few years I seriously think I aged 10 years. I sure hope we get these guys on lock down and lock down the B10 for years to come. He who has the best DB's w continue to be the top teams year in and out. Peppers is our guy and w him things w change fast! For the better


May 6th, 2013 at 10:07 PM ^

I'm not sure I understand.  Why would he have been profiled last fall?  He was a member of the 2012 class, so he signed his NLI in February 2012.  If Brian is doing these things at the same point as last year, Johnson would have been profiled in spring/summer 2012.


May 7th, 2013 at 11:22 AM ^

I'm really enjoying Michigan's 2013 (and beyond) recruiting because it's starting to feel like the staff is addressing possibiliities rather than need. At worst Dawson gets burried on the depth chart and transfers; at best he becomes an incredibly athletic 6' 2" 190+ pound corner who can shut down even the largest of the "big body" recievers and come up strong in run coverage.

The likely path is somewhere in between but his physical tools seem poised to get him on the field in one way or another.  If he can clean up his pursuit angles a bit I could see him getting on the field for special teams after his redshirt year; while competing for starting role on the defense. Assuming some of these "make or break" guys stick around when they don't jump into the starting role we should be able to have enough players to fill most of the special team roles without risking injury to starters.