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Coach's Corner: Sheldon Dawson

The final weekend before signing day is approaching, and the University of Georgia has yet to land a defensive back commitment for the 2012 class. But that could soon change.

Sheldon Dawson (Memphis, Tenn./Ridgeway) is listed as a Memphis commit, but that soon could change. Dawson recently named Georgia as the team to beat, and according to Ridgeway head coach Duron Sutton, the player could be close to inking with the SEC East champions.

"People are still coming after him, but from what he has spoken to me about, it looks like he will be a Georgia Bulldog,” Sutton said. “From my understanding, I think he wants to make an announcement Monday. He is supposed to go to Ole Miss this weekend.”

Sutton says Dawson found a lot to like about a possible future in Athens.

“It is definitely the lure of the SEC,” Sutton said. “When you are dealing with a team that has a lot coming back, they seem to be primed to compete for the SEC East for the next several years.

Several other programs were in pursuit of the Memphis native.

“Vanderbilt is recruiting him, but he did not like the way Tennessee recruited him,” Sutton said. “I guess the situation was not what he was looking for, so he never wanted to be a part of it. He has others like Ohio State, Ole Miss and Mississippi State recruiting him.”

Dawson took an official visit Dec. 16 to Georgia, and the three-star athlete was impressed with how the Georgia coaches intend to use his play-making ability on both sides of the ball, and how upfront they were in their approach.

“He has a good feel for Georgia and he really enjoyed himself in Athens,” Sutton said. “The fact that they continually showed a player of his caliber the roles he would like to play, it kind of speaks high volumes about that school right now.”

The 6-foot, 179-pound Dawson had more than 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns as a backup tailback in his junior year, averaging more than 21 yards per carry. Starting at wide receiver, cornerback, kick and punt returner as a senior, he scored a touchdown in every game during the regular season for Ridgeway. But his primary position at Georgia would be on defense.

“They just graduated a player that he feels he is able to fit that mold in Brandon Boykin,” Sutton said. “He feels that he can do some of the same things that Boykin did, like primarily play cornerback but also have some opportunities in the offensive system and return game.”

With recruiters of record Scott Lakatos and Todd Grantham, it's easy to understand where Georgia wanted to start Dawson.

“When you have the defensive coordinator and the secondary coach coming after you, it gives you a solid idea of what they want him at, first and foremost,” Sutton said. “They did a great job of letting him know they have no problem with him playing on offense sometimes, but they are recruiting him as a defensive back and have been clear with him. He likes the approach they gave him, and they proved they are willing to do that, with Brandon Boykin and with Branden Smith as well. He appreciated their honesty, their willingness to recruit him hard, and he likes both of them.”

Like most coaches, Sutton is quite high on his star performer, and he feels Georgia would be lucky to have the addition of Dawson next week.

“He is a very versatile player whose ability is second to none,” Sutton said. “He is probably one of the most athletic kids I have ever coached. He has great lateral quickness and can get to top speed faster than most.”

As a former defensive back himself, Sutton feels Dawson's body frame is most suited to be a defensive back at the next level. That multipurpose ability affords a team the chance to use him anywhere on the field.

“I just think they are going to get someone who can help them wherever they need it, whether that is cornerback, safety, wide receiver or running back in some situations,” Sutton said. “He can help a team win in several kinds of ways. He has the ability to make plays with the ball in different situations, like the return game and in certain offensive packages.”