With Dawson and many other U of M targets in attendance, the Tigers kicked off their 2011 campaign with a 59-14 loss to No. 20 Mississippi State. Dawson said he was unfazed.
"It's a process and the road to success isn't easy," Dawson said. "I know coach (Larry) Porter's going to get everything together."
Dawson said when he and others like Gross, Mitchell, and Wooddale wide receiver Daniel Hurd pledged to Memphis, it was with the understanding that the coming season could potentially be quite bumpy.
"We know that it's going to take time," Dawson said. "It wasn't promised when we committed that it was going to be a good season. (The current team) still has to work hard."
One thing Dawson and the other recruits could take solace in, he said, was that the players Porter signed in his 2011 class — his first full one — had nice showings against the Bulldogs.
True freshman quarterback Taylor Reed was 23-of-35 for 149 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Reed subsequently earned the starting job. Artaves Gibson, a freshman running back, rushed 17 times for 89 yards.
Dawson said he doesn't expect any recruiting backlash if the Tigers endure another losing season.
"People that are interested in Memphis, we all understand that it's a process that we're going through," Dawson said. Dawson is still firmly committed to the Tigers. He said he spoke with Porter a day after the game.
"He's just telling me to be ready to come in and work," Dawson said.
Dawson said he believes that Porter still has momentum in recruiting in the Memphis metro area and beyond, whether or not the Tigers' current on-field product is at the desired level.
"People are ready to work with coach Porter," Dawson said. "It's a process but I think that a lot of people look at it as we're making bad decisions. Once we get it together and get things going, people will like it. It is what it is."
Dawson's commitment to the Tigers this summer was widely considered as a shock, as Dawson held offers from schools like Tennessee and Ole Miss. Dawson said he views the Memphis program in the same light as any SEC team.
"If I can go to Alabama and get to the NFL, I can do it from Memphis," Dawson said. "People say a lot of stuff. I committed, so I don't know what to tell people."