"My parents have never missed a game of mine, so being close to home was a big part of my decision. It's still far enough that I am getting away from home, but close enough so they can be there. I just can't imagine I'm going to be playing there in front of 60,000 people."
Dawson got an early offer from WVU after earning first team all-state honors as a junior, and the Mountaineers recruited the 6-4 wideout aggressively.
"WVU showed a lot of interest in me right from the start," Dawson observed. "They have been in to see me more than any other school, and the coaches have been just great."
Dawson also received offers from Duke, Kent State and Marshall, and was getting serious interest from Notre Dame, Tennessee, Indiana and Pittsburgh. He attended a Nike camp at Ohio State and the adidas Elite camp at Notre Dame, and believed that he would have received offers from at least some of those schools had he not committed to WVU.
He was named to the elite group of receivers at the Nike camp, and got a great deal of interest from the Irish for his performance at the adidas event.
"I think some of those schools would have offered me, but I'm not a guy who is going to sit there and talk about how many offers I have," the well-spoken wideout said. "When you know you have the right offer and the right place, it's time to go. I visited the other schools that offered me, and they were nice, but they were nothing like WVU.
"I wanted to get it [my commitment] done so I didn't have to worry about it during my senior season, and also to take some of the pressure off my coach (Mike DeVol). I know he's been getting all kinds of calls, so now we can concentrate on my senior year."
That a highly recruited athlete would be concerned about the effects of the recruiting game on his coach and team speaks volumes about the character of Dawson, as do his plans for the upcoming season. Despite his status as the top wide receiver in the state, Dawson might play another position for Parkersburg South this fall.
"I might play quarterback or even some halfback this year," Dawson said. "I'll probably play safety on defense too. But, I'll be a wide receiver in collge."
At his current size of 6-4 and 195 pounds, Dawson fits the prototype of today's bigger outside wideout who uses those physical attributes to make catches. Although he was battling an ankle sprain during WVU's rising senior camp on May 22, he showcased those abilities with several catches where he used his size and strength to separate from defenders and shield them away from the ball.
"I am a physical player - that's one of my strengths," Dawson said as he analyzed his game. "It's tough for defenders to play bump and run against me, because they can't keep their hands on me. My leaping ability helps me too. When I'm healthy, my vertical is between 33 and 36 inches, and I run a 4.5."
Dawson also knows, however, that he will be competing on an entirely different playing level in just 15 short months.
"I really need to work on everything. It's a completely different level of football," said the two-time all-state selection. Two things that I know I'll be working on are my route running and my speed. I want to make my routes as good as they can be, and I think I can get my speed down to the 4.4 range."
Dawson has played football, basketball, baseball and run track, and earned second team all-state honors in hoops as a sophomore and a junior. However, with his career at West Virginia on the horizon, he plans to concentrate solely on the pigskin.
"It's doubtful if I play basketball this year," Dawson said. "After football season, I want to start working out with the strength programs from West Virginia, so I think I will concentrate on that."
Dawson, who plans to major in business and marketing, will have no trouble qualifying. His addition to the early commitments for the Class of 2005 is an excellent one for West Virginia, as the Mountaineers now have three outstanding skill position players upon which to build the rest of the class, which will be heavy on linebackers and offensive linemen.