David Dawson, listed as 6'5", 305ish, committed to Michigan last Saturday with fellow Technician Jourdan Lewis. After having played his sophomore year of football at Cass Tech, Dawson moved to Texas, and then recently back up to Cass Tech. During his journey, a large list of suitors attempted to sway him away from his home state, especially recently, but when the Michigan offer was given to him, he acted. Already, Dawson has become close to achieving a Shane Morris-level of bond with his fellow future teammates on twitter.
For all of his recent offers and hype, Dawson is, to a certain extent, a prospect that came out of nowhere. During his sophomore year (still at Cass Tech), he impressed at a few camps in the area, and got noticed for his intensity and athleticism on the field, but lacked size. After going down to Texas for a year, he almost disappeared from the radar of most Michigan fans. However, upon his return, he began to blow up with offers from the likes of Florida State, Alabama, Missouri, and UCLA. He came up to Michigan last weekend with teammates Lewis and defensive tackle Kenton Gibbs, and committed on the spot.
Offensive line is now a position that's stocked full of top talent. After taking four kids along the line last year, UM has gotten the verbal commitment of five (among the top 200 players nationally) in this cycle. That could lead to a logjam at several positions, especially offensive guard, which could be the position of four or five of these players. Although the numbers could be spread across three years (assuming someone like Kalis doesn't redshirt this year and a few of these kids do), something still will have to give. However, it seems like all of these kids have a deep love for Michigan, and a majority of them will stick through hard times. Dawson, especially, seems like one of these kids.
That, of course, isn't to say that he won't be one of the kids to see playing time. During his freshman year on campus, assuming Barnum stays at guard, there will be two holes at each of the guard positions. Bryant, Kalis, and maybe Bars could have put themselves in position to take advantage, but a strong summer (spring?) camp from Dawson/Bosch could put them comfortably in the rotation for playing time. As most football fans know, injuries are, sadly, a common aspect of life in the metaphorical trenches. Just this year, Michael Schofield (supposedly a backup) ended up playing more than the player ahead of him in the depth chart, Ricky Barnum.
There's a lot to like about the way Dawson plays the game. His frame allows for him to comfortably carry his weight (305) and move around well, for that matter. He's very athletic, and could offer versatility along the line, ala Huyge, who played LG, RG, and RT throughout his career. He has long arms and uses his hands better than most offensive linemen you see at that level. However, there are various parts of his game that I'm not so excited about. For one, he seems to lack the proverbial 'nastiness' you like to see out of offensive linemen. Guys like Kalis, Bosch, and Fox all have visibly obvious bad intentions on their mind, when they take the field. I don't see that as much, with Dawson. He'll open a gap, sure, but the intensity isn't as high as I'd like to see. I also think he has a tendency to reach too much, with his upper body. Offensive linemen should maintain good pad level (which he doesn't often do) by bending at the knees. He bends at the waist and leans into his target, which hurts him in pass blocking. One thing I took away from his earlier camp performances was the ease at which defenders could create pressure by simply ripping or knocking down his hands. This, however, would be a much bigger issue at Tackle than at Guard. Many of these traits are fixable with coaching, but I think it may take longer than he (or UM fans) might like.
So there you have it, folks. Dawson's a local kid that feels at home with Michigan, and furthers a thriving pipeline. With offers from the likes of Florida State and Alabama, you know the potential there. The real question will be figuring out how long it will take him to fulfill that potential, much the same as with Logan Tuley-Tillman. For now, I assume we'll see a redshirt and some time developing under Coach Funk.