He already has 12 scholarship offers and Southern California recently had an assistant coach fly to Danville in a private plane to visit Dawson, which has led to an offer. He’s got offers from Florida and Tennessee. He likes Alabama. He’s gotten offers from Oregon. He has the grades to accept offers to Stanford or Vanderbilt.
His five official visits could be to perhaps Oregon, Michigan, Florida, Alabama and USC. Or maybe it will be Stanford, USC, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas Tech. How impressive is that for a Kentucky player? That’s similar to the treatment former in-state starts like Dennis Johnson and Micah Johnson got before they both eventually picked UK and had very good careers.
So how are teams trying to convince Dawson to leave the Bluegrass? There’s one common theme.
“Teams are telling him there is nothing wrong with Kentucky if he wants to compete for fourth place in the SEC Eastern Division (behind Florida, Georgia and Tennessee),” said one person familiar with Dawson’s recruitment.
“A coach will tell him he can compete for fourth in the division at Kentucky or for a conference championship and BCS bowl berth at his school. That’s been a pretty constant selling point in his recruitment and something Kentucky has to overcome.”
Of course, it’s been a selling point for years against UK and something Rich Brooks overcame to the extent he produced winning teams and bowl bids. But he did not beat the SEC’s elite teams or challenge for conference championships and now new UK coach Joker Phillips faces the same recruiting battle for players like the Boyle standout.
Dawson will not make a quick decision — and he’s such a nice young man that he will likely have trouble telling coaches no that he has gotten to know and like.
He admits that Louisville coach Charlie Strong has been persuasive in his recruiting pitch, something that is especially troubling to UK fans.
Smith knows all this and certainly won’t lose Dawson without a huge recruiting battle. Dawson is considered a top-100 recruit nationally by some recruiting services and losing him would be a big PR hit for Phillips as well as Smith.
Kentucky needs to keep big-time players like Dawson, who had 160 tackles last year, in the Bluegrass and to do that is going to have to find a way to combat the recruiting pitch other coaches are using about the Cats’ status in the SEC Eastern Division.
And even though it’s not a totally new sales pitch, it is still one that can be difficult for UK to overcome when recruiting big-time players like Dawson who have so many marquee offers.