"I'm really excited. I enjoyed the campus, and I enjoyed all the stuff they were telling me about it. I liked the visit. I'm blessed to be able to come up there."
Dawson traveled to Champaign with two of his Trotwood-Madison teammates.
"It was me, Mike McCray and Trey Williams-Brown."
The cornerback prospect also enjoyed having Illini assistant coach Steve Clinkscale guide his tour of the Illinois facilities.
"Coach Clinkscale is a very good coach. I learned a lot of stuff from him because he took me on the tour. I learned a lot about the campus. I was really impressed."
Clinkscale would be Dawson's position coach if he attended Illinois. His 6'-2" height is an advantage on defense. He lists that as one of his assets.
"My size and my speed, and my coverage. Being a tall corner is an advantage for me. I can see what's going on better. I think I need to work on my tackling. That's a weak point I definitely need to work on.
"I also need to gain strength. I really want to get bigger, but every time I try, it don't work. When I go to college, I feel like I'll fill out. I weigh 177 now."
Illinois wasn't his only offer that weekend.
"I stopped at Purdue before coming to Illinois, and they gave me an offer. And I have offers from West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Bowling Green, Ohio U, and Toledo. I have like 10 offers so far."
The future Business major has developed a set of criteria he wants from the college he chooses.
"I'm looking for an education first. And then sports of course because that's what I'm going for. I'm trying to get a good degree because I don't know if I'll be blessed enough to go to the NFL. If I am, that's great. But I want something to fall back on since anything can happen. I could get hurt or something.
"After that, having a safe environment and a place where I can have a good time and build a lot of experiences. I'd like to feel like there's family there. The players at Illinois were telling me they were a family. I feel like I couldn't go wrong there."
Dawson is in no hurry to finalize his choice.
"Not at this point. I'm not focusing on schools. I'll look at that mainly this summer. But my top are Illinois, West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia. Kentucky is where my cousin went. He just got inducted into the Kentucky Hall of Fame. I'll probably commit after the next football season. I just want to focus on football in my high school career."
Trotwood-Madison is always loaded with talent. Dawson helped them to an exceptional 2011 season.
"We won state in Division 2; we were 15-0. On our schedule, we play a lot of D-1 schools. We played Wayne, and we beat them 47-27. It was enjoyable. The first pick I got was in that game. I had five interceptions on the season. I had one like every other game."
Dawson will add receiver duties as a senior. He hopes to make more college visits, but transportation is a problem for him.
"I'll probably take a visit to Cincinnati, and I might take one to Michigan. I'm not sure yet. I usually go in a group of people because I can't really travel."