- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
When Jarrod Clements committed to Illinois in early May, it was only a matter of time before his teammate Reon Dawson (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) was going to follow suit. Dawson made it official Friday night.
“As soon as he committed, he said I’m next,” Dawson said Saturday morning. “I told him before we were going to go to the same college but didn’t tell anybody. It was either (Illinois), West Virginia or Kentucky. I didn’t want to go school by myself.”
A 6-foot-1, 175-pound safety, Dawson will play cornerback this upcoming season for Trotwood-Madison and eventually at Illinois, too. The Illini signed only one cornerback in the 2012 class, so Dawson said the Illini believe he can come in and play early.
Dawson did not talk to new Illini coach Tim Beckman while he was coaching at Toledo but built a relationship with the staff after visiting Illinois. He believes Beckman has the program in the right direction, especially with the 2013 class he is bringing in.
“They are a new era and I can be a part of it and help them. They came from Toledo and built that program,” Dawson said. “I know we have the No. 1 quarterback in the country committed [Aaron Bailey]. We got a really good quarterback, and I can compete with to make me a better player.”
Illini assistant Alex Golesh was at Trotwood-Madison during the evaluation period and handed out several offers to 2013 and 2014 prospects. Much like Clements was in Dawson’s ear, Dawson said he will work his teammates to join him. But he won’t involve himself too much.
“Yes and no,” Dawson said about selling Illinois to his teammates. “They’re so young that they know what an offer is but don’t really understand it. I’ll put in their ear but let them make their decisions.”
The Illini have 10 commitments in the 2013 class, four of which are from Ohio.
546dTom Luginbill and Craig Haubert