Illini Battling Many Schools For NC LB

Fighting Illini football coaches always try to recruit players who know how to win. A large number of players in the 2011 signing class hailed from successful programs. Illinois is after another prospect from the east coast who knows what it takes to get the ‘W'.

Nick Dawson, a two-way athlete for Philip O. Berry Academy of Technology in Charlotte, North Carolina, has caught the eye of numerous BCS schools. His combination of size and speed makes him a force on both sides of the ball. He led his high school to a strong season in 2010.

"We went 11-3 and lost in the third round of the playoffs. I had 6 tackles for loss and 6 Sacks. I ended up with 123 tackles. On offense, I had 853 yards on offense and twelve touchdowns. I had one on defense too."

Dawson's natural inclinations and abilities are ideal for the defensive side of the ball at the next level.

"I played running back on offense and linebacker on defense. At linebacker, I have great sideline to sideline vision, I can fill the gaps, and I can guard a receiver one-on-one. On offense with running back, I can just get the ball and go with it. I want to play linebacker in college."

A middle linebacker at the college level must possess a wide range of physical tools and a sense of aggression. Dawson is one of those players who can put all of those together.

"I'm 6'-3", 230. I recently ran a 4.7 flat. I can hit. I can move. I have great size."

Dawson wants to get the most out of his college experience. That, among other things, will factor into his choice.

"Different positions. Whether I'll come straight in and play. The family atmosphere."

Of the many schools after Dawson, a few are starting to emerge from the rest. Some of the schools are local, while a couple are further from home.

"Clemson, Louisville, Miami, Tennessee, UNC. There's a lot about those schools I like. The family tradition at each,and their need for linebackers is good."

One factor that might come into play in Dawson's recruitment is the commitment of one of his teammates. Wide receiver Germone Hopper committed to Clemson back in April and has been working on Dawson since then.

"Germone's been in my ear about it too, but I'm not ready to make any decisions yet. We do talk about playing together a lot though."

Dawson did get to see a couple of the schools at the top of his list this spring.

"I went to Georgia, Tennessee and Louisville."

Aside from his group of frontrunners, Dawson is still getting a lot of attention from some of the Big Ten's best as well.

"Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. Just Illinois from the Big Ten has offered."

Illinois has some catching up to do.

"Illinois is recruiting me, but I really don't talk to the coach that much. Coach Long came once in the spring to see me."

One thing that may be appealing to Dawson at Illinois is the opportunity to see the field early.

"He said they needed linebackers, so I could see the field early there."

Dawson has plans to see a lot of schools this summer. Looking at his list, it's almost like a concert tour including schools from coast to coast.

"Miami, Oregon, California, Auburn, Tennessee, North Carolina, Clemson and Louisville."

Things can still change, with plenty of time left in Dawson's recruitment. He wants to be as thorough as possible and not waste any of the opportunities he has.

"I'm going to take all my official visits before I decide or anything. I want to make sure I make the right decision."


Illini Inquirer Top Stories