Hello: Reon Dawson

Submitted by Ace on January 15th, 2013 at 11:44 AM

According to multiple outlets, Trotwood (OH) Madison cornerback Reon Dawson, a high school teammate of Mike McCray, has committed to Michigan. Dawson, previously an Illinois commit, is the 26th commitment of the 2013 class, joining Ross Douglas, Jourdan Lewis, and Channing Stribling among cornerbacks. Informative update coming tomorrow.

UPDATE, of the informative variety:


Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
3*, #64 CB 3*, NR CB 3*, 77, #41 S 3*, 84, #82 CB

Coming from a powerhouse program in Trotwood-Madison—in addition to McCray, the Rams produced Ohio State commit Cam Burrows and Illinois commit Jarrod Clements this year—means Dawson is well-scouted. The four services all have him squarely in the three-star range, with only ESPN evaluating him as a safety. All but ESPN (6'1", 175) list him at 6'2", 175 pounds—Dawson continues the trend of Michigan targeting bigger corners.

The general consensus on Dawson is that he's a talented prospect with a great frame, but also very much a project. Scout's Dave Berk gave a quick breakdown of his game last summer ($):

The first thing that jumps out about Dawson is his length. At 6-foot-2, Dawson needs to add weight if he expects to compete in the Big Ten. Nevertheless, he’s got above average feet along with the ability to flip his hips, turn and run with receivers out of his back pedal. He is raw, but his upside is extremely high to develop into a solid player at the college level.

Rivals's Josh Helmholdt saw similar potential last summer as Dawson improved at the more technical aspects of the position ($):

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.

While Dawson's physical tools are widely praised, his technique and play recognition repeatedly appear as areas in need of improvement. Here's 247's Clint Brewster($)...

Improvements: Dawson is a raw/untapped prospect that has the athleticism to be a big time college football cornerback. Dawson might need a year in the weight room to add muscle, which will help him make plays in the run game. As Dawson gets more comfortable with the cornerback position, he will be able to react quicker to plays and recognize routes faster, which is an area of improvement.

...and Scout's Ryan Easterling ($):

Technique will be the main focus for Dawson. His athleticism can only take him so far, and he’ll need to refine the technical side of his game to become a more complete corner. With that, he’ll need to make more crisp breaks on the ball when jumping routes and adjusting to his receiver’s routes.

Dawson only started playing organized football a few years ago, which helps explain why he's still developing in these areas. ESPN's evaluation echoes those same concerns about technique and instincts, suggesting safety may be a better position for him at the collegiate level ($) [emphasis mine]:

What stands out about Dawson is his quick feet, smooth hips and very good top end speed. When you consider his height, you have an appreciation for how well he moves. Shows fluid, smooth footwork carrying vertical routes out of his pedal and zone turn. ... He is a strong and reliable open field tackler who breaks down well in space for a tall corner. ... High-points the football and flashes good leaping and ball skills. While he effectively presses receivers off the line with his long arms, he does lose a little in transition when opening to turn and run. Recovery speed is good, not great and he does better playing the ball in front of him with some cushion. Dawson could develop into a man-to-man cover corner at the next level, but his skills and speed are more suited as a zone defender. Still has some room for good physical development while keeping his excellent range making safety a strong possibility.

If Dawson proves he can turn and run with college wide receivers while also adding the weight he'll need to hold up in the run game, he should be able to stick at corner. If not, he could develop into a rangy safety, though his size won't be as much of an asset there as it would be at corner.

The evaluations paint a pretty clear picture of Dawson—he's got the athletic tools needed to be a good cover corner, but needs work to get there. If he puts it all together, at his size, he could be a big-impact player; the question is if he can progress quickly enough to work his way above more polished players on the two-deep.


Dawson held offers from Arizona, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pitt, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Virginia, West Virginia, and a handful of MAC schools. He camped at Alabama and Ohio State but did not receive an offer from either school.


Dawson tallied 22 tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in his senior season, per the Greater Western Ohio Conference. As a junior, he had 18 tackles, a fumble recovery, and three interceptions.


Rivals lists a 40 time of 4.4 seconds, while 247 has him at a 4.39—given the praise for his athleticism, that gets three FAKEs out of five.


Junior highlights:

Extensive senior film and cutups from both his junior and senior seasons can be found on Dawson's Hudl page.


As the least-heralded among Michigan's four cornerback commits, not to mention the concerns about technique, Dawson is almost assured a redshirt year to gain weight and learn the finer points of playing corner—or, as it may be, to figure out if he's a corner or a safety. Should Dawson stick at corner, his bigger frame suggests he'll play on the boundary. The path to playing time won't be an easy one, not with three other corners in the class, but Dawson's size and ability to play safety or corner give him a good shot to find a home somewhere on the two-deep.


In all likelihood, Michigan will only take two more players in the class. One of those spots is reserved for VA RB Derrick Green, who's got Michigan as his leader and will choose a school on January 26th. Three other players hold offers and appear to have serious interest: CA OL Cameron Hunt, CO OL Dan Skipper, and TX TE Durham Smythe. Any one of those players could take the final spot, or—if the coaches decide they're set at O-line and Smythe goes elsewhere—we could see some late offers go out.



January 15th, 2013 at 12:37 PM ^

Early Enrollees is the answer. Those who enroll in January are counted against the previous year (current year) up to a max of 3 per year.  So Dymonte Thomas, Kyle Bosch, and Logan Tuley-Tillman don't count against the list who will sign on NSD. They've already started school, and are not added to the count. Adding 25 commitments in February 2013 brings us to 28 total, which iirc, is the max allowed by the Big 10.


January 15th, 2013 at 3:03 PM ^

All of the above. There are two limits, 85 schollies total, and 25 per signing class. Back in Feb when we were predicting 23 players, this was because of the 85 total limit. We had some attrition above what was (conservatively) assumed, so the 85 limit wasn't a concern anymore. Now we are bumping up against the 25 per signing class limit, however the Big Ten allows 3 players to be backdated to the prior class if they are early enrollees, provided the last class wasn't full too. We had 25 last year, but 3 were EEs that counted toward the 2011 class, leaving room for 3 from this class to backdate as EEs. So 28 is the hard limit for this class.


January 15th, 2013 at 12:23 PM ^

I don't know if this has been stated before, but I'm curious. With our coaches' focus on technique and fundamentals, it seems to me that a lot of our lower-rated prospects have a ton of physical tools but a looser grasp on fundamentals.

To me, this bodes well, because fundamentals are a lot easier to coach than athleticism. It's also one way that 3-star players can turn into first-round picks. This is also a good thing.



January 15th, 2013 at 1:09 PM ^

One thing I took away from "Meat Market" by Bruce Feldman is that Ed Orgeron wanted guys who were good athletes.  He didn't care about finding fundamentals very much, because it was a coach's job to teach the kids those things.  I don't care for Orgeron much as a head coach, but he has done a pretty good job of recruiting and developing talent at various places, so that might be a valuable lesson.


January 15th, 2013 at 12:35 PM ^

But reading about his upside just got me depressed all over again about losing Conley to Ohio.  I would have been ok with Conley decommitting to go anywhere else besides Columbus.  The mere thought of Ohio stealing our recruits makes me feel as dirty as a drunk, younger version of myself doing the walk of shame in a strange house after performing vile sexual acts with an unattractive woman of questionnable moral character.



January 15th, 2013 at 12:48 PM ^

That's quite a colorful analogy.

But given the number of kids we've pulled OUT of Ohio over the past couple of years isn't more analagous that we've been banging the pretty wife our next door neighbor pretty regularly and he found out and put an end to the highjinks?

My guess is though we'll still be Ohio high school football's "back door man" as long as Hoke's around.


January 15th, 2013 at 2:53 PM ^

I still question how good Conley is as a DB.  When Lugenbill was asked about his high ranking on ESPN, the only thing he said is that he likes tall corners.  I watched his entire highlights and saw nothing that special as a CB.  It's not the big loss some people seem to think. 


January 15th, 2013 at 1:22 PM ^

I don't know anyting about Durham Smythe, but I was wondering why we would look to take another TE in this class.  We took 2 (sort of) last year, and already have 2 so far this year.  


Any insight into why we would take another? I'm assuming he's highly valued, that much I can gather, but why a third?  Could we see Funchess move to more of a WR position perhaps?

Dilithium Wings

January 15th, 2013 at 1:49 PM ^

I hate seeing CB's play 10 yards off the WR's. That being said, Dawson seems to be very comfortable playing close and bump and run. With his size he should be doing that most of the time.

Glad to see Hoke and crew continuing to go after the Ohio pipeline. Urbz seems to be ignoring the states rich talent and I will gladly take them.

Dilithium Wings

January 15th, 2013 at 3:34 PM ^

My comment wasn't necessary directed to Dawson but rather to the amount of talent Hoke has been getting from the state.

Tressel very much locked down the state of Ohio and benefited greatly from it. Hoke has come in and has eaten up the talent. There has been a lot of chatter here in Ohio about how Urbz is ignoring a lot of talent and only going after the elite prospects.

UM in NC

January 15th, 2013 at 2:42 PM ^

Is it better to have all polished 4 and 5 star recruits or to have a mix of polished 'stars' and unpolished 'projects'?  It seems to me that players like Stribling and R. Dawson are good to have because they have lots of upside and motivation to improve. They will push and maybe even overtake the more polished players.  If they don't ever make it to that level, they may be more willing to be a backup/special teams player than a 5 star kid would be. 


January 15th, 2013 at 6:17 PM ^

That this young man can't catch the football? He has decent height, 4.4 speed, and shaky mechanics. Maybe, he could help stretch the field at wr.