Dawson leaving WVU to be OC at Kentucky

After spending the last three years as West Virginia's offensive coordinator, Shannon Dawson - the final member of Dana Holgorsen's first coaching staff at WVU remaining in Morgantown - will be leaving to take the same position at the University of Kentucky.

Dawson will replace Neal Brown at Kentucky, who recently left the school to take over as the head coach at Troy, and will join Mark Stoops' staff with the Wildcats after coaching the West Virginia offense in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl at the end of the month.

"I've known Shannon for a long time and I trust him as much as any coach I've ever been with," Holgorsen said. "It's a great opportunity for Shannon and I couldn't be happier for him.

Although he has been a coordinator for the last few seasons, the move to Kentucky will be a different opportunity for Dawson - who has been alongside an offensive coach like Holgorsen since arriving to WVU for his first OC job at the FBS level. This will be Dawson's first real chance to call all the shots since he spent three years as the offensive coordinator at Stephen F. Austin from 2008-10. In those three seasons, the Lumberjacks finished No. 13, No. 2 and No. 6 in total offense, respectively.

"He works for an offensive coach (at WVU), who's going to be involved in offense and you all understand that," Holgorsen said. "The opportunity to work for a defensive head coach and to have complete control is something that he's ready for at this point. He joked around a little bit when he came to me four years ago that he thought he was ready for that job at that point. After four years, he knows he's ready for this job, and I know he's ready for this job.

"I would never try to talk anybody out of that. I did the same thing at Texas Tech back in 2008, and it worked out for me. He's ready for it, and he'll do a great job. As far as the bowl game goes, he coaches our quarterbacks and he's going to continue to coach them until the end of the game, and then he'll move on."

Dawson helped recruit a number of players on the current WVU roster, and was someone who left a mark on a lot of the players he has coached at WVU because of his willingness to teach everyone the ins and outs of the Mountaineer offense to make sure they all grasped the concepts that WVU was running.

"He's definitely important to what has happened here. He helps us sort things out, certain concepts and things that we run," said junior inside receiver Jordan Thompson. "He's going (to Kentucky) for personal reasons, it's more fitting for him so he can have a little more control and he can evolve and get his name out there more. I respect what he's doing and I'm glad that he did what he has done here and what he's taught me while I've been here with him."

And although it was Holgorsen who had the final say in some of the playcalling duties each game, Dawson knew the offense inside and out about as much as any other coach could. He knew what players would be capable of doing in the system and what their potential could be if they came to play in the offense - especially the skill players.

He made that part known to them when he would recruit them.

"(Dawson) actually recruited me, he was in my home and I got to know him really well," said senior wide receiver Kevin White, who caught 102 passes for 1,318 yards and nine scores this season. "He just made it very clear that if I don't come here then someone else was going to catch 100 balls ... So I had no option to even think of anything else once he said that."

It was Dawson's affable nature that made the players like him as much as they did. They could tell that he cared for them and was genuine from the time they first got to meet him.

"He's a people person. He takes the time to talk to you, get to know you," Thompson said. "That's what I liked about him. He took the time to meet my mom and dad and talk to them, answer their questions. He's a very good guy and I respect him a lot."

In the four years that Holgorsen has been at WVU, Dawson is the fourth offensive assistant coach to leave for a job at a Power 5 school, and the second to leave WVU to be an offensive coordinator in the SEC.

"Shannon’s the same as the previous guys that we’ve lost, in particular offensive, that have moved on for some pretty good jobs. That’s a compliment to what we’re going as well," Holgorsen said. "What we’re doing offensively, there’s a lot of people that have interest in it, there’s a lot of people that want to do very similar things so that makes our guys marketable. So it’s a part of the deal. That’s not going to change, especially if you have success. When you have success, you’re marketable. Your guys are going to move on, they’re going to have opportunities to be able to spread their wings. I’m happy for him. It’s just part of the job.

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