LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Dermontti Dawson, an All-Southeastern Conference guard at Kentucky and one of the greatest centers in the history of the National Football League, will have his number 57 UK jersey retired during the season-opening game vs. Louisville on Sept. 1. The announcement was made by Larry Ivy, UK Director of Athletics, at the annual UK Kickoff Luncheon held Friday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Dawsons story is that of the hometown hero. He is a product of Lexingtons Bryan Station High School, where he was an all-state lineman. He played guard and center at UK. He was a four-year letterman from 1984-87 and played for the 84 Hall of Fame Bowl championship team. He was named All-SEC following his senior season and was a second-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dawson achieved national acclaim during his 13-year pro career, all spent with the Steelers from 1988-2000. He was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection from 1992-98. His effectiveness was matched by his durability, as he played in 170 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in Steelers history. He played in 184 total games in his career, the fifth-highest mark in team history.
This is a big honor and Im very excited, Dawson said. When I heard about it, I was really shocked, but very happy. This is one of those unexpected things that come along. Not a lot of players get their jerseys retired.
Dawson is happy to be back in Lexington on a more permanent basis. He has maintained an off-season home here with his wife Regina (also a UK grad) and their two children.
Its nice to be back. Its the first time since college that Ive been in Lexington full-time, Dawson said. I havent been able to keep up with UK football in person and Im looking forward to that.
When reflecting on his UK playing career, thoughts of one man come to the forefront of Dermonttis mind -- Coach Jerry Claiborne.
I thank Coach Claiborne for what he did while I was at UK, Dawson said. Coach Claiborne talked about two things all the time -- character and discipline. Ive tried to carry those things with me. He inspired me to play my best and be the best person I could be.
Dawson becomes the 45th former Wildcat player or coach to have his jersey retired. Previous honorees include George Adams, Ermal Allen, Sam Ball, Calvin Bird, Rodger Bird, George Blanda, Paul Bear Bryant, Warren Bryant, Jerry Claiborne, Blanton Collier, Sonny Collins, Ray Correll, Tim Couch, Bob Davis, Joe Federspiel, Bob Gain, Irv Goode, Mark Higgs, Tom Hutchinson, Clyde Johnson, Wallace Wah Wah Jones, John Shipwreck Kelly, Ralph Kercheval, Rick Kestner, Jim Kovach, Dicky Lyons, Charlie McClendon, Steve Meilinger, Lou Michaels, Doug Moseley, Rick Norton, Rick Nuzum, Vito Babe Parilli, Derrick Ramsey, Jay Rhodemyre, Dave Roller, Howard Schnellenberger, Larry Seiple, Washington Wash Serini, Bernie Shively, Art Still, Herschel Turner, Harry Ulinski, and Jeff Van Note.