Chicago (IL) St. Rita High cornerback Lamar Dawson took the trip east to visit the Syracuse campus for the first time. He toured the campus with Coach DeAndre Smith, met some of the players, and spent time with defensive backs coach Fred Reed. Despite staying until Sunday, he saw all he needed to see on Saturday to make his decision.
"I talked to a few players," Dawson explained. "I talked to one of the safeties. He was working out and I got introduced to him. Then I talked to a senior running back they have there, Prince-Tyson Gulley. I got introduced to him. He was pretty cool. I basically just met up with Coach Smith at the football building. He was showing me everything around campus and stuff like that. We went and saw the stadium, the Carrier Dome. It was huge.
"Then we went out to lunch (Chipotle). After that I met with Coach Fred Reed. We talked about the defense. He went over how he coaches the DBs and the defensive scheme and all that. I committed to Coach Smith after that because I missed Coach Shafer."
With Coach Shafer unavailable due to prior obligations, Dawson committed to Coach Smith. Despite the head coach not being present, the reaction was still very positive from the Orange staff.
"He (Coach Smith) was happy," Dawson claimed. "He was asking me what I was thinking and I told him I thought Syracuse was the right fit or me. He said that was good and we started talking. I wanted to meet Coach Shafer to let him know but I told Coach Smith that I was ready to commit before. But I wanted to get on campus just to make sure this was really where I wanted to be. So when it was he was pretty excited about it."
Dawson has the skill set to be successful as a corner or safety at the next level. He says, initially, the Orange are bringing him in as a cornerback.
"Honestly that could go either way," Dawson admitted. "They say corner for now but the DB coach asked me about safety. He asked the question. It seemed like they think I can play either one. But right now they are bringing me in as a corner."
One of the main parts of the visit that stood out and helped Dawson make his decision was the Carrier Dome.
"My favorite part, honestly I've been to a lot of colleges," Dawson declared. "The Dome is pretty nice. That was probably one of the best parts of Syracuse. That was definitely my favorite part. It's just huge and they said it gets real loud. There's not many colleges playing in a straight up dome every week for their home games. So it's seems pretty unique."
With his father by his side as the two took in the Syracuse campus, both reacted positively to their first impression in the football building. The history of the program blew them away.
"My Dad and I, we liked the stuff we saw at the beginning," the 3-star corner said. "With Ernie Davis and all of that. That was special. They have this special turf room that you just walk in and it shows just a legacy of him and what it is to be a Syracuse football player. It was a nice video and the presentation was nice. The whole hallway is just football greats that came out of Syracuse.
"That stood out to us. Then the success outside of the football program like the lacrosse program. Then it's not a big school. They only have like 13,000 students or something like that. But they have this big fan base that supports Syracuse. This is New York's college so I think with the fan support that I've seen is just amazing."
Family is very important to Dawson, and having his father with him meant a lot when he made his verbal pledge. His dad was proud and happy with the conclusion of the recruiting process.
"My dad was really happy about it," the St. Rita standout said. "He wanted me to go to Syracuse. He was behind me the whole time as far as me going there. My dad is really excited about it. It's a new feel being from the Chicago area. I've lived in Chicago all my life, so I'm ready to go away."
Now that the process is over for the 6-foot cornerback, he wants Syracuse fans to know exactly what they can expect from him during his career in Orange.
"They're getting a guy that has great character," Dawson offered. "On and off the field, just no trouble. I'm going to focus on my sport, on football. Someone that's going to keep trying to get better. I'm not going to say I'm the Michael Jordan of anything. I'm just going to come in and turn the program around. I just hope that with my commitment I can help them makes strides to become one of the best football programs in the country."