Duke Dawson did not hesitate. He knew all along that he would return for his senior year.
"It wasn't a tough decision," said the Florida defensive back about deciding to return and play corner at UF. "I mean I played corner in high school, so it's really nothing different. It's just me knocking the rust off. I played nickel for the past year. Safety. Just getting my feet back wet at the corner position, it's going to be all right."
Dawson's decision to return was welcome news for Jim McElwain and company, who is already going to miss several pieces on the Gators defense including defensive backs: Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor. Dawson finished his junior season with a pick-six, a team-high seven pass break-ups, a forced fumble, and 24 total tackles (3.5 for a loss) and will be a veteran the coaching staff will lean on.
"It's just getting all the other guys to rally around," said Dawson about maintaining the high level of play on the defensive side of the ball. "Being that leader, that person that's going to lead them the right way, make sure that those guys are coachable. For the past two days, those guys have really been listening."
"It's next man up, so you can't worry about the past guys did," added Dawson. "You've just got to focus on the present, and that's what we're doing."
Dawson is focusing on a few things himself to prepare for the upcoming season.
"Me, it's been discipline with my eyes. Sometimes I just get caught looking at the wrong spot half the time and that really messes me up," he said. "That's something I'm really focusing on. [Florida defensive back] Coach [Corey] Bell teaches to all of us DBs having great eyes."
With Dawson hoping to improve his NFL draft stock this season, he hopes to take everything new defensive back coach, Corey Bell, can give him.
"Coach Bell, he's a great coach. He preaches the little things. He always going to tell you the why, why he wants you to do something. With those guys that's kind of like timid to ask questions, he's going to come up to you and ask you. He gonna give you the answer at the same time."