Boyle County's Lamar Dawson will play football at Southern California
Boyle County linebacker Lamar Dawson said this morning he will play college football at Southern California, picking the Trojans and coach Lane Kiffin over Kentucky, Tennessee, Oregon and Central Florida (Clay Jackson)
He proved that was true, too, today when he signed with Southern California and turned down a chance to play in the Southeastern Conference for either Kentucky or Tennessee.
Dawson made his announcement at the high school gym today in front of the Boyle students, faculty and bevy of state media members on what was proclaimed Lamar Dawson Day by both city and county officials.
With numerous family members standing behind him, Dawson wasted no time announcing he would attending USC to play.
“I just thought USC was the right place for me,” said Dawson. “It gives me an opportunity to grow as a person and player. I can just grow everywhere. I also thought about where I wanted to be academically in case I got hurt and I thought USC was the best place academically for me.”
Dawson, who visited USC in mid-January, told coach USC Lane Kiffin on Tuesday night he would sign with the Trojans.
“I really like him. He is a good person and he was very excited about my decision. All the coaches were,” Dawson said.
Dawson said there really was not a “second choice” when he made his decision Tuesday night. He called both UK head coach Joker Phillips and recruiting coordinator Chuck Smith, a former Boyle head coach, Tuesday night to tell them he was going to USC.
“They respected my decision. That was about it,” Dawson said.
Dawson finished his career with 502 tackles, including 62 tackles for loss, and seven interceptions. During his senior year, he had 165 total tackles, including 23 for loss.
Offensively, he had 40 receptions for 646 yards and ran 125 times for 1,105 yards. He scored 26 total touchdowns.
Dawson won numerous postseason honors. He was the co-winner of the Paul Hornung Award, Class AAAA Player of the Year and was named Kentucky’s Mr. Football. He played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. He’ll be officially named a PARADE All-American on Sunday — an honor only Danville’s Chris Jones and Harrodsburg’s Dennis Johnson have earned in this area.
He said the combination of playing on the national stage at USC and the facilities and overall atmosphere made it impossible for him to turn down the Trojans, a decision that his mother supported.
“They have airplanes, so we can get out to see him,” Wanda Andrews, his mother, said. “We wanted him to be happy and this is what he wanted, so we are happy. This was always his decision and we were just here to support him.”
Dawson relishes the chance to go away and prove he can succeed.
“Sometimes you have to go away to grow up and be a man,” Dawson said. “Going to USC is a big opportunity for me. I just love everything about it. I always liked USC, and now I am a Trojan.”
He knows he was a big recruiting target for Kentucky and that many area fans were hoping he would pick Kentucky so they could watch him play.
“I am the one going to college. I had to pick the school that was best for me, not somebody else. I can’t worry about anybody who will be upset with me for not picking Kentucky. My friends and family will still support me,” Dawson said.
Boyle assistant coach Zach Massengill was coaching the freshman team in 2007 and knew Dawson “was extremely special” after the first game. Dawson played in Boyle’s fifth varsity game that season and never came back off the field.
“It has been really fun to watch him grow as a football player and as a person. As a football player, I admire his knowledge of the game. He is an extremely smart football player. He lined up our defense and he made a lot of the checks and calls during games. He reads the play well and he was always around the football. He played the game at a very, very high level,” Massengill said.
“In college, I think Lamar will be really good and he has potential to be great. He has the God-given size and athletic ability to walk in and start right now. Lamar will continue to work and keep a good attitude and that will make him special at the next level.”
Boyle coach Larry French expects Dawson to do well at USC.
“He had an outstanding career here at Boyle County and is a prime example of what a student-athlete should be. Hopefully he will be just as successful at USC as he was here. I am glad I was just a small part of his career and success at Boyle County,” French said.
“He’s a terrific kid and student (3.85 grade-point average). He has all the tools you want in a player and he sees this as a great opportunity to go compete for national championships. He’s not afraid of competition and he’s anxious to show what he can do. It’s a big decision. This is the one he made and will continue to do all we can to support him. He did an awful lot for us here and he’ll do an awful lot for USC now.”