NCF On The Trail: David Dawson

When a football coaching staff signs one of the top few recruits at any position, it's cause for celebration. Therefore, grabbing two of the top three prospects at that position might warrant an Animal House-style party.

Between 2006, when ESPN began assembling recruit rankings, and 2013, individual programs managed to sign at least two of the top three players at a position 16 times. In many cases, one -- and sometimes both -- of those players became instant stars as true freshmen. Think Taylor Mays and Joe McKnight at USC, De'Anthony Thomas at Oregon, Laremy Tunsil at Ole Miss and Sean Spence at Miami.

This was a relatively unique occurrence up until 2014, when it happened five times -- with four of the five instances occurring in the SEC: twice at Alabama, which signed the top two players at both center (No. 1 Josh Casher and No. 2 J.C. Hassenauer) and outside linebacker (No. 1 Christian Miller and No. 2 Rashaan Evans), plus at LSU (with No. 1 and 3 wide receivers Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn) and Florida (with No. 2 and 3 defensive tackles Gerald Willis and Thomas Holley).

Clemson was the other school to accomplish the feat in 2014, signing No. 2 and 3 receiving tight ends Milan Richard and Cannon Smith.

In some of these cases -- particularly at LSU, which lost the vast majority of its receiving production from 2013 -- expectations are high that the star signees can immediately become valuable contributors as true freshmen. The Tigers have multiple alternatives at receiver, including Travin Dural and John Diarse, but Dupre and Quinn might rank among the leading contenders for playing time.

Judging by the long list of Freshman All-America and freshman all-conference honors won by those who previously signed as part of such a dynamic duo, perhaps it's not such a long shot that at least one of the newcomers will make a similar instant impact.

2006

Safety | USC
No. 2 Taylor Mays, No. 3 Antwine Perez

Mays appeared in all 13 games -- starting the last 12 at free safety after Josh Pinkard suffered a season-ending injury in the opener -- in 2006 and led the Trojans with three interceptions. Mays was fifth on the team with 62 tackles and tied for second with six passes defended, ending the season as Pac-10 Co-Freshman of the Year and as a member of multiple Freshman All-America teams. Perez played in seven games and recorded three tackles.

2007

Center | Auburn
No. 1 Ryan Pugh, No. 3 Chaz Ramsey

Pugh started six of Auburn's final nine games at left tackle and appeared in eight games overall. He also backed up Jason Bosley at center and earned Coaches' All-SEC Freshman team honors after the season. Like Pugh, Ramsey appeared for the first time in Week 4 and went on to start nine of the Tigers' last 10 games at right guard. He also made the Coaches' All-SEC Freshman team.

Running back | USC
No. 1 Joe McKnight, No. 2 Marc Tyler

McKnight played in all 13 games in 2007, ranked third on the team with 540 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns. He also caught 23 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown and served as the Trojans' primary punt returner, with his 8.4 yards per return helping him earn a All-Pac-10 honorable mention nod. Tyler redshirted in 2007 while recuperating from a high school leg injury.

2008

Inside linebacker | Ohio State
No. 1 Etienne Sabino, No. 2 Andrew Sweat

Sabino played in all 13 games and notched six tackles. He notched the only touchdown in the Buckeyes' 16-3 win against Purdue by returning a blocked punt 20 yards for a score. Sweat appeared in the last nine games and recorded five tackles, also contributing mostly on special teams.

Outside linebacker | Miami
No. 1 Arthur Brown, No. 2 Sean Spence, No. 3 Ramon Buchanan

Not only did Miami sign ESPN's top three outside linebacker prospects in 2008, it also signed No. 5 Jordan Futch. That's an outstanding haul for one year. At any rate, Spence emerged as the key member of this group from the get-go, ranking third on the team with 65 tackles and leading the Hurricanes with 9.5 tackles for a loss in 2008. He was ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and made multiple Freshman All-America teams. Brown (who later transferred to Kansas State) played in 11 games as a freshman, notching four tackles and shifting from outside to inside linebacker. Buchanan had six tackles in nine games, playing mostly on special teams and also contributing at safety and linebacker.

Offensive tackle | Ohio State
No. 2 Michael Brewster, No. 3 J.B. Shugarts

Brewster played in 12 of the Buckeyes' 13 games in 2008 and started the last 10 at center, earning Freshman All-America honors in the process. Shugarts appeared in seven games at offensive tackle and missed six other games with a shoulder surgery that required offseason surgery.

Safety | Florida
No. 1 Will Hill, No. 2 Dee Finley

Hill played in 13 games and ranked sixth on the team with 48 tackles. He also picked off two passes and notched 1.5 sacks. He made the SEC All-Freshman team and led the Gators with 22 tackles on special teams. Finley did not qualify academically and spent the 2008 season at Milford Academy prep school. He eventually enrolled at Florida and shifted from safety to linebacker, but transferred away from Gainesville in 2011.

2009

Safety | South Carolina
No. 2 Stephon Gilmore, No. 3 DeVonte Holloman

Early enrollee Gilmore started all 13 games at cornerback, ranking fifth on the team with 56 tackles. He tied for the team lead with nine passes defended and ranked second with eight pass breakups, adding six tackles for a loss, three sacks, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and an interception. The Freshman All-SEC and Freshman All-America honoree also averaged 10.1 yards per return as a punt return man. Another early enrollee, Hollomon also played in every game, notching 30 tackles, an interception (which he returned 54 yards against rival Clemson) and a tackle for a loss.

2010

Athlete | Florida
No. 1 Ronald Powell, No. 2 Matt Elam

Powell played in 13 games at strongside linebacker and recorded 25 tackles, three tackles for a loss and a sack en route to winning Freshman All-SEC honors. Elam also played in all 13 games, mostly on special teams and at defensive back, and notched 22 tackles, two tackles for a loss and a sack.

Defensive tackle | Florida
No. 1 Dominique Easley, No. 3 Sharrif Floyd

Easley recorded four tackles in six games. Floyd played in all 13 games, earning Coaches' Freshman All-SEC honors by making 23 tackles and 6.5 tackles for a loss.

Wide receiver | Texas
No. 2 Mike Davis, No. 3 Darius White

Davis ranked second on the team with 478 receiving yards and 47 receptions (a record for a Texas freshman). He became one of only three receivers in Longhorns history to post multiple 100-yard games as a freshman. White appeared in 10 games in 2010, but caught just one pass for 5 yards and eventually transferred to Missouri after two seasons, citing a need for a fresh start.

2011

Athlete | Oregon
No. 1 De'Anthony Thomas, No. 2 Devon Blackmon

The speedy Thomas earned Pac-12 Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year honors and was named an All-Pac-12 kick returner and a Freshman All-American. He was the only player in the nation to post at least 400 yards rushing, receiving and kick returning in 2011, ranking as the Ducks' second-leading receiver (595 yards on 46 catches) and third-leading rusher (608 yards and seven touchdowns). His 983 kickoff return yards ranked second in school history. Blackmon redshirted in 2011 and appeared in two games in 2012 before announcing his plan to transfer. He played at Riverside City College before signing with BYU as a juco transfer in 2014.

2012

Defensive end | Florida State
No. 1 Mario Edwards, No. 3 Chris Casher

Edwards became the only freshman to start all season for a loaded FSU defense when he replaced the injured Tank Carradine in the ACC Championship Game. He also started in the Orange Bowl win over Northern Illinois. In all, Edwards finished the season with 17 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. Casher played in two early games before suffering a season-ending injury and taking a redshirt in 2012.

2013

Offensive guard | Michigan
No. 2 David Dawson, No. 3 Patrick Kugler

Dawson and Kugler both redshirted in 2013. Dawson practiced during the spring at left guard and left tackle, while Kugler is among the candidates to start at center this fall.

Offensive tackle | Ole Miss
No. 1 Laremy Tunsil, No. 3 Austin Golson

Tunsil immediately became one of the better offensive tackles in the SEC, earning second-team All-SEC and Freshman All-America honors in 2013. He played in 12 games and started nine at left tackle, making him one of only two true full-time freshman starters at the position in the FBS. Tunsil allowed just one sack all season. Golson played in 12 games, mostly at guard, before missing the Rebels' bowl game because of shoulder surgery. He transferred to Auburn this summer, citing a family illness as the reason he wanted to move closer to his Alabama home.

Safety | USC
No. 1 Su'a Cravens, No. 3 Leon McQuay III

A 2013 early enrollee, Cravens started 13 games at strong safety, ranked eighth on the team with 52 tackles and tied for second with four interceptions. He made multiple Freshman All-America teams and earned an All-Pac-12 honorable mention nod after the season. McQuay played in all 14 games, picked off one pass and recorded 19 tackles.

Tales From the Road: Ohio State 

June, 5, 2013
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BuckeyeNation continues to hit the road in search of budding Division I talent who should catch the eyes of Ohio State fans. Here’s what we came up with this week:

This week’s targets: BuckeyeNation as well as RecruitingNation headed to Columbus, Ohio, for the Elite 11 and Nike Football Training Camp. Seven Buckeyes commitments -- the only pledges missing were Marcelys Jones (Cleveland/Glenville) and Sam Hubbard (Cincinnati/Moeller) -- made their way to the Ohio State campus and didn’t disappoint as Kyle Berger (Cleveland/St. Ignatius), Kyle Trout (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster), Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech), Dylan Thompson (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) and teammates Dante Booker and Parris Campbell Jr. of Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary each earned trips to The Opening.

Detroit rock city: Assistant coach Kerry Coombs spent a good portion of the evaluation period in Detroit, and for good reason. He went after two-time Michigan commit David Dawson from Cass Tech High School last season, but missed. Coombs and the Buckeyes didn’t this time around as Webb committed back in January. Malik McDowell of Detroit Loyola is also on the Ohio State radar. Before he said yes to Michigan, Lawrence Marshall was an Ohio State pledge, even if it was only for three days. Marshall lives in Southfield, Mich. a suburb 19 minutes away from Detroit.

2013 Cass Tech DT pledges to NC State 

January, 23, 2013
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- North Carolina State picked up its 18th commit in the 2013 class Wednesday.


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Signing day primer: Michigan 

January, 23, 2013
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Commitments: 26
ESPN 150 commitments: 9


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Michigan puts out more 2015 offers 

January, 22, 2013
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan doubled its 2015 offers in stopping at just one school, going from two to four offers in the matter of a few hours. And both offers show where the Wolverines want to improve greatly over the ensuing seasons -- in the trenches and run game.


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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Wolverines are out on the recruiting trail, closing out their 2013 class and looking forward to future classes. Naturally, the next class to consider is the 2014 class, which has two commitments (linebacker Michael Ferns and offensive lineman Denzel Ward) and several offered prospects.

But with a recent surprising miss at Detroit Cass Tech with Damon Webb committing to Ohio State, the Wolverines aren’t going to skip a beat with any player, regardless of class.


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Hackenberg, Olsen earn UA Game starts

January, 3, 2013
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Black Team offense

Quarterback: Christian Hackenberg (Penn State)

Running back: Alvin Kamara

Receiver: Alvin Bailey (Florida), Robert Foster (Alabama), Damore'ea Stringfellow (Washington)

Tight end: O.J. Howard (Alabama)

Offensive tackle: Darius James (Texas), Denver Kirkland

Offensive guard: Grant Hill (Alabama), Joas Aguilar (Texas A&M)

Center: Hunter Bivin (Notre Dame)

Captains: Kelvin Taylor, Hunter Bivin, Robert Nkemdiche, Ben Boulware

Black Team defense

Defensive end: Robert Nkemdiche, Elijah Daniel

Defensive tackle: Greg Gilgmore (LSU), Kennedy Tulimasealii (Hawaii)

Inside linebacker: Ben Boulware (Clemson)

Outside linebacker: Alex Anzalone (Notre Dame), Matthew Thomas

Safety: Keanu Neal (Florida), Leon McQuay III

Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida), Tarean Folston (Notre Dame)

Black Team special teams

Long snapper: Tyler Kluver (Iowa)

Kicker/punter: Sean Covington (UCLA)

White Team offense

Quarterback: Kevin Olsen (Miami)

Running back: Keith Ford (Oklahoma)

Receiver: Laquon Treadwell, Ryan Green (Florida State), Jalin Marshall (Ohio State)

Tight end: Hunter Henry (Arkansas)

Offensive tackle: Derwin Gray (Maryland), Dorian Johnson (Pittsburgh)

Offensive guard: Patrick Kugler (Michigan), David Dawson (Michigan)

Center: Scott Quessenberry (UCLA)

White Team defense

Defensive end: Carl Lawson (Auburn), Joey Bosa (Ohio State)

Defensive tackle: Henry Poggi (Michigan), Kelsey Griffin (South Carolina)

Inside linebacker: Reuben Foster, Yannick Ngakoue

Outside linebacker: Trey Johnson

Safety: Max Redfield, Antonio Conner

Cornerback: Gareon Conley (Ohio State), Shaq Wiggins (Georgia)

White Team special teams

Long snapper: Brendan Turelli

Kicker: Ryan Santoso (Minnesota)

Punter: Shane Tripucka

Captains: Ryan Green, Hunter Henry, Patrick Kugler, Reuben Foster

Dawson settles into U-M commitment 

December, 31, 2012
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- ESPN 150 offensive lineman David Dawson (Detroit/Cass Tech) was committed to Michigan for several months before an October trip to the University of Florida violated Wolverines coach Brady Hoke's no-visit policy, causing the prospect and Michigan to part ways. The Wolverines then re-offered the No. 1 offensive guard in the nation a month ago.


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Weekly Commitment Roundup 

December, 21, 2012
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ACC
Clemson
Demarcus Robinson WR Fort Valley, Ga./Peach County
HT: 6-2 WT: 200
Position Rank: #14 WR

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Ohio State 2013: Needs versus wants 

December, 18, 2012
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It’s the dead period in college football recruiting, which means coaches can still call players once a week, but they can not make on- or off-campus contact with non mid-year enrollees.

With that said, the Buckeyes can probably take four or five more players in the Class of 2013 depending on medical hardships, players transferring or leaving early for the NFL draft.

Here’s a position by position look at what the Buckeyes want vs. what they need.

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Weekend Rewind: Michigan 

December, 17, 2012
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Michigan added two needed pieces to its 2013 class with Detroit Cass Tech teammates David Dawson and defensive back Delano Hill. Dawson is the No. 1-ranked guard in the country and recommitted to Michigan while on his official visit.

The additions of the two prospects give the Wolverines five committed prospects along the offensive line and five defensive back commitments as well. Depth is limited for both positions, so it's no surprise that the coaching staff made those groups an emphasis.

Hill and Dawson weren't the only two impressed with Michigan on the big visit weekend, though. Wisconsin commit Marcus Ball (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville South) came away impressed with the Wolverines, as did the Michigan commits on the visit with him. Ball said he now has a lot to think about with his commitment but wants to wait to see who Wisconsin hires before making any decisions.

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Weekend Rewind: Midwest 

December, 17, 2012
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This past weekend was the last few days before the dead period, which will run until the New Year, and the weekend came with some big news for some of the Midwest's biggest programs.

Here is a look at some of the news to come from the weekend.

  • Michigan added two commitments, including one from David Dawson, a former Michigan commit. The momentum swung in the Wolverines' favor once again a few weeks ago when Brady Hoke offered the ESPN 150 offensive lineman for the second time. Michigan also added Dawson's Detroit Cass Tech teammate Delano Hill, a former Iowa commit.
  • Ohio State did not host any big visitors, but the Buckeyes got some good news. ESPN 150 linebackers Trey Johnson and Mike Mitchell announced they will commit in early January, and the Buckeyes are in a good position to land both.

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On a big visit weekend for Michigan, the Wolverines have picked up two big-time prospects in offensive lineman David Dawson (Detroit/Cass Tech) and his teammate, defensive back Delano Hill. Dawson, the one-time Michigan commit, was on his official visit, while Hill had only recently been offered by Michigan.

The two are big commitments for Michigan as they both come at positions of need, and they also happen to be very good prospects. Dawson is a four-star and the No. 1-ranked guard, while Hill is a solid three-star safety who had been committed to Iowa until flipping to Michigan on Saturday.

The two commitments now give Michigan 24 total for the 2013 class, and will likely give the Wolverines a boost in the ESPN class rankings as well. With the NCAA and Big Ten rules, Michigan is still able to sign three more prospects in this class. With plenty more options on the board, Michigan should be in good shape to land a few more top prospects.

ESPN 150 OG Dawson books OSU official 

December, 11, 2012
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Ohio State will get its chance to make a late pitch for the top-ranked offensive guard in the nation when David Dawson (Detroit/Cass Tech) makes an official visit to Columbus, Ohio.

But the 6-foot-4, 282-pound ESPN 150 senior won’t be making the trip when many of the 2013 targets are coming to Ohio State, and that could be a good thing.

Dawson indicated that his trip is slated for Jan. 18 -- a full week after Kenny Lacy, Cornelius Elder, Shelton Gibson, James Hearns, Ryan Timmons, Marcus Baugh, Johnny Townsend and Jalin Marshall are making their visits to see the Buckeyes.

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OT Kenny Lacy plans OSU official visit 

December, 11, 2012
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If there’s a spot for an offensive lineman in Ohio State’s 2013 recruiting class, it’s pretty evident who the Buckeyes are going after if it’s not David Dawson (Detroit/Cass Tech).

It became clearer today when UCLA commit Kenny Lacy (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe) scheduled an official visit.

The 6-foot-5, 260-pound offensive tackle was floored by Ohio State’s interest on Nov. 29, saying it was a big offer.

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