Standing on the sidelines of last week's Hoover High School/Tuscaloosa County High School game, Dawson's value to his team both on the field and in sideline meetings was evident.
Listed at 6-1, 255 pounds, Curtis Dawson is a man among boys in high school. Hoover uses him at middle linebacker, which allows him to direct the defense and roam sideline to sideline to make the tackle--two tasks that Dawson performs well.
Football is a tough game, and just being a good athlete won't guarantee success. Extremely mature for a prep player, Dawson isn't afraid of contact. He'll stick his helmet in anywhere on the field, often punishing ball carriers in the process.
Dawson's program height of 6-1 may be a tad generous, but he's big enough for linebacker. According to Hoover coach Rush Propst, he has also played outside linebacker and defensive end for the Bucs. In short yardage situations, Hoover makes use of Dawson's strength by bringing him in as a blocking tight end.
There has been a lot of talk that Dawson will end up at defensive tackle in college, and that may well be the case. But Bama's coaches are recruiting him for middle linebacker, which is his natural position right now.
Dawson definitely has good enough speed for linebacker. But if he managed to add enough weight to play with his hand in the dirt without losing a step, he could potentially dominate on the line.
As the biggest and meanest senior on that side of the ball, Dawson is clearly the defensive leader for Hoover. He directs traffic on the field, and when the stop unit gathers for a quick team meeting on the sideline his teammates get a double-does of coaching.
As one of the top prep programs in the state, Hoover has more than enough coaches to go around. Coach Propst delegates authority well, and the Buccaneer defensive coordinator was giving instructions to his players seated around him in a semi-circle.
But when the Hoover coach was finished, Dawson stepped up to the markerboard, gesturing and lecturing his teammates on their responsibilities.
Everyone listened closely.
- Dawson is obviously more physically mature than most high school players, but it's possible that he's just grown up faster than his peers. It would be interesting to meet his father and uncles to see his potential for continued growth.
- Like most prep linebackers (and many in college), Dawson occasionally let himself get caught up inside. But he moves well and knows where the football is.
- When Dawson has a clear shot, the runner had better protect himself. He arrives at the football in a hurry and drives through the tackle.
- As BamaMag.com's Brett Pouncey pointed out in an earlier story, Dawson has a knack for making the big play when needed to throttle the other team's offensive momentum.
Hoover Coach Rush Propst has called Dawson "the most dominating high school player I have coached." Quite a compliment, considering last year's consensus top state player, Chad Jackson, also played for Hoover.
In the weight room he claims a 385-pound bench, 550 squat and 325 on the power clean.
RECRUITING NOTE: Alabama is also recruiting Dawson's teammates, defensive end Jeramie Holifield and quarterback John Parker Wilson. Hoover fullback/defensive end Josh Smyth could also end up at The Capstone.