Looking Backward and Forward with Akarika Dawn

Linebacker Akarika Dawn will be a key player for the Colorado defense this fall, his senior season. In the following interview, Dawn takes a look back at the reasons he came to CU in the first place, and talks about his expectations for his final fall in Boulder.

Q: You were part of that 2002 recruiting class, you and Joe Klopfenstein and Brian Iwuh, Thaddaeus Washington. It's your senior year. How much have you thought about this being your last go around? And what does that mean to you?
Akarika Dawn:
Me personally, this being my last year, time flew by so fast. In six months, I'm done. It means a little bit more now because there's no more time for errors, or no more time for saying, ‘I've got next year.'

As a class, we knew when we got here what was at stake. And now the fruit of our labor is showing up.

Q: Do you guys talk about that much?
Yeah, a lot. We have senior meetings and we talk a lot about what the season can be, what it should be and what we need to do to make what we want happen.

Q: When you look back to 2001 when you were a senior in high school, what was it about Colorado that made you want to come here?
Actually, I committed when I was a junior. It was Coach (Eric) Bieniemy, when he was here, and the whole coaching staff. And just watching them on TV made me say, ‘You know, I want to leave Texas and go somewhere different.' I came up here and felt most at home when I visited here. They were offering and I was buying.

Q: Is there a game that you're looking forward to most this season?
Probably the Texas game. Because I'll be back home. That's the school that passed up on me. Going back and playing Texas (in Texas) and beating them, that's what I've wanted to do.

Q: When you were a freshman, was there a guy you looked up to most on the team?
Probably Kory Mossoni. He was a safety, and I played behind him my freshman and sophomore year. He wasn't the greatest athlete, but he worked hard and he showed me how to play this defense, and how to be quite and take care of your business.

Q: What are your expectations for yourself this upcoming season?
Stay injury free and produce as best as I can for the team.

Q: You guys are going to Miami this year. The last time you took a trip to Florida, you played Florida State, and you went out and jumped up and down on their logo at midfield. If a team came here to Folsom and went out on the logo…
They'd get the same reaction we got.

Q: What was that?
Just hostility. It's kind of a disrespectful thing. But it is what it is.

Q: Are you looking forward to the Miami game?
Yeah. But I think people hype it up a little too much. It's just another game on our schedule we've got to play on the road. It happens to be a prestigious place. For the fans, it's a great thing. But for us, it's a game that could catapult us up. They're just another notch that we've got to put in our belt.

Q: Are you aware of the 1993 CU-Miami game?
Oh yeah. We've watched the video. You get to school, and you get a chance to see it. We've got every game from like the 1940s on file. So I've seen it, and I've met some of the guys that were involved in it. And I've seen it on ESPN Classic. To me, that was the '93 team, and not us. It happened then.

Q: You guys wore several different uniform combinations last season. What's your favorite?
It kind of depends. If it's a home statement game, probably the all black. But, personally, I like the black tops and white pants, like we wore against North Texas. But a lot of alumni don't like it.

I don't really care too much, I just like playing. The uniforms look good, no matter what.

Q: Tell me the difference between the defense you played in 2002 and 2003, vs. the one you played in 2004, and will play this season. Other than the extra safety in the 4-2-5 vs. the 4-3.
I think that in 2002, we were young and inexperienced, and we couldn't attack. Now I think we have so many guys that know what they're doing, and we can attack. That's why it probably looks a little different now. Guys know what they're doing.

Q: So you feel pretty good about this year's defense?
Oh yeah. Of course. The thing is, I know everybody says we've got everybody back. But we're smarter now than we were before. We've all had time to lick our wounds and learn from what happened last year. As linebackers, we all know what we're doing.

Q: Is there anybody on the defense that people might not have seen, who you think is going to surprise people this season?
Ryan Walters. He's a hard hitter, and he plays hard. He's right behind J.J. (Billingsley) and (Tom) Hubbard and a couple other guys. I think he'll get a chance to play, because he's doing pretty well. He'll be a guy that'll pop out at people.

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