Hello Again: David Dawson

Submitted by Ace on December 15th, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Previously: Hello: David Dawson

Cass Tech OL David Dawson has re-committed to Michigan after a dalliance with Florida previously caused him and the Wolverines to go their separate ways. Dawson convinced Brady Hoke that he was worth re-offering a few weeks back, then committed today on his official visit. He's the fifth offensive lineman in Michigan's 2013 class, which has swelled to 24 overall commits today.

Dawson's previous commitment post is linked above; since he's played an entire summer camp circuit and senior season since then, it's worth taking another look at him.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
4*, #8 OG,
#182 Ovr
4*, #6 OG,
#151 Ovr
4*, 84, #1 OG,
#87 Ovr
4*, 94, #6 OG,
#108 Ovr

The four recruiting sites are all in general agreement about Dawson—he's a consensus four-star and among the top eight guards in the country and 200 players overall. All four list him at 6'4" and between 280 and 290 pounds.

My first time seeing Dawson was at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in June, where he was clearly the best offensive lineman in a field that included Logan Tuley-Tillman and MSU commit Dennis Finley:

Dawson was easily the most impressive lineman present, both from a physical and technical standpoint. He looks like he's in the 280-290 pound range but doesn't appear to be carrying much bad weight at all. He shows an advanced understanding of technique for a high school player; Coach Funk was presiding over the offensive line drills, and when he needed to give an example of what he was looking for, he had Dawson give the demonstration. Dawson displayed very quick feet, shuffled well in pass protection while keeping a solid base, and showed a very strong initial punch.

In one-on-ones, Dawson excelled in a drill that gives a clear edge to the pass-rusher. He got great depth with his initial step and had three or four pancakes (not all of his reps are on my film above). When Dawson did get beat, it was usually when he let the defender get into his body instead of keeping the rusher at bay with his arm punch. The proverbial mean streak was also on full display. On one rep, Dawson got beat off the edge, and the defender went back to his side screaming "Let's go!" and "I'm hungry!"* Dawson didn't appreciate the woofing, asked for an immediate rematch, and buried the guy into the turf.

I also saw him in action for Cass Tech on three occasions this fall, and in each game he dominated. Here's my report from his performance against Orchard Lake St. Mary's:

Dawson has reached the point where I almost assume that he'll dominate. While the Cass Tech line as a whole struggled, Dawson was a bright spot, getting huge push in the run game and holding up well on the edge in pass protection. His mean streak was once again on full display as he consistently played to—and through—the whistle, and it was obvious that OLSM defenders were frustrated going up against him.

There are times where Dawson relies too much on his hand punch in pass protection and stops moving his feet, which is something he'll need to work on, though shouldn't be as much of a concern at guard than if he was slated to play tackle at the next level. Otherwise, I still see a rock-solid lineman who should be a multi-year starter down the road.

While Dawson could get by on size and strength alone at the high school level, he's a very coachable player who's got very advanced technique for his age. Here's Josh Helmholdt on Dawson ($):

1. David Dawson, OL, Detroit Cass Tech: No one jumped out and ran away with the overall top performer nod from the games I saw this weekend, but Dawson played up to his four-star and Rivals250 billing, earning the top spot. Cass Tech destroyed Detroit Northwestern 57-0 Friday afternoon and Dawson only got a half of work, but despite his team running away with the game the 6-foot-4, 282-pound lineman went 100 percent every snap he played. Northwestern had some good size along their defensive line, but Dawson's strength, quickness and especially his technique overwhelmed the opposition.

ESPN updated their evaluation of Dawson($) in December [emphasis mine]:

He possesses very good size, looks to have a thick lower body and the room to potentially add some more good mass in a college weight program. ... In the run game, he does a very good job with hand placement and will work to reroute his hands when he can't initially gain positioning. He maintains a good base and can generate good leg drive to create push. He does need to work to play lower as his pad level can get high. ... He displays good pull/trap ability and is able to stay under control, locate and get a hat on active second level targets. Displays good toughness. As a pass protector, you see a player trying to do the right thing and execute with good technique. He is able to set quickly and maintain good balance. Can deliver a good punch. He can, at times, abandon his technique and chase and lean, and he needs to learn to be patient and stick with his technique.

Well, this wouldn't be a Hello post for an offensive linemen if there wasn't a comment about pad level—Dawson could play lower, though as ESPN noted he played largely out of a two-point stance at tackle. When he's got his hand in the dirt at guard, it should be easier for him to keep leverage.

Overall, Dawson is an ideal fit at guard. He's especially adept at run blocking, gives full effort to—and through—the whistle, and is technically advanced for a high school lineman. I witnessed first-hand his ability to absorb coaching and apply it to his game at the SMSB camp, and I fully expect that he'll be a multi-year starter at guard down the road.

OFFERS

Dawson held offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, EMU, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Mizzou, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Several of the big-name offers—including Florida, Ohio State, and USC—came after his initial commitment.

STATS

No stats for offensive linemen.

FAKE 40 TIME

Rivals lists a 40 time of 5.54 seconds, which sounds pretty real to me for a high school lineman. One FAKE out of five.

VIDEO

Junior highlights:

My film of Dawson from the one-on-one portion at SMSB:

There are also sophomore highlights and camp film from the Best of the Midwest combine on the YouTubes.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

I've said my piece on Dawson—he's a major talent at guard and should be a starter there down the road. In a pinch, he could also figure into the rotation at right tackle (or, with lefty Shane Morris at QB, left tackle). With Michigan looking to go MANBALL with their running game, he's a perfect fit up front.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Michigan initially planned on taking five offensive linemen in the class and 24 players overall, but Sam Webb has hinted recently that Michigan could take up to 28 or even 29 players (backdating early enrollees to last year's class) and adding an additional lineman. The Wolverines are still pursuing CO OL Dan Skipper (Tennessee commit) and CA OL Cameron Hunt (Cal commit); Skipper is on campus this weekend and Hunt should visit in January.

Other major targets include VA RB Derrick Green, FL S Leon McQuay III, OH CB Reon Dawson, and newly-offered OH ATH Marcus Ball (Wisconsin commit being recruited as a linebacker).

Comments

AlaskanYeti

December 15th, 2012 at 3:28 PM ^

I'm happy Dawson has come full circle with his commitmet. He had some soul searching to do and decided to stay close to home. It's great for the University, but will also help David and his family continue to recover from the loss of David's father. GO Blue!

jscbus

December 15th, 2012 at 3:45 PM ^

What a great story with a great ending. Seems like Dawson just needed a little more time to figure things out, and I don't blame him at all. I wish I might've had some more time to sort some things out when I was 18...you know, when life happens. I'm glad his heart settled in the right place and he is on his way to having a tremendous future!

buddhafrog

December 16th, 2012 at 12:18 AM ^

I'm another that is so happy with the commit.  I quietly took his decommit in stride, knowing that we have a great OL class.  And I know that Dawson is not ranked the highest of our OL and that the folks who do the rankings know these things and pay much closer attention than I.  Yet, this was the lineman that I was most hyped about.  I loved his drive, his motor, and nastiness.  I think he will be great and I really wanted him a wolverine.  He's had a hard, hard year, and I don't blame him at all for how this process played out.  Hopefully he found what he was looking for and feels even better about the committment than he did originally.

Welcome to the family, DD.

Go Blue!

M-Dog

December 16th, 2012 at 7:14 PM ^

"Dawson held offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, EMU, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Mizzou, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin."

EMU.  I like their spunk.