04/01/18 — Prep Football -- CBA's Dawson signs with St. Andrews

View Archive

Prep Football -- CBA's Dawson signs with St. Andrews

By Justin Hayes
Published in Sports on April 1, 2018 3:09 AM

PIKEVILLE -- A studious perusal of Rico Dawson Jr's Instagram account, often a bay window-sized gaze into someone's life, doesn't exactly reveal the most compelling running drama in the world.

And that's a good thing.

There are five posts, each dedicated to his time as an athlete at Charles B. Aycock, a following of 1,256 people and a familiar Bible passage -- Psalms 23: 1-6.

As social media platforms go, it's uncommonly modest.

There's nothing at all which smacks of typical teenage foolery, nothing embarrassing or gaudy or insensitive, no look-at-me hoopla or something questionable that he'll either have to walk back or regret six months down the road.

It is, however, a textbook case of substance over style.

Which is exactly what the mood reflected on Tuesday, when the cornerback gathered with family and CBA head coach Steve Brooks to sign a national letter of intent to continue his football career this fall at St. Andrews University in nearby Laurinburg.

And the scene -- dressed in Columbia blue, but as far removed from pomp and circumstance as it could possibly be -- was very much a matter of his choosing.

Dawson, it seems, is just about the work.


His path to college football began in earnest two years ago, when an offseason talk about the game with his Pops morphed with three-cone speed to a workout regimen that spared no expense toward improvement.

Call it Full Metal Jacket meets The Sandlot.

"When you go from high school to college, it's a different animal," Rico Dawson Sr. said. "So we began the process of working out... once we got into the routine and he understood the expectations, it was just like clockwork."

Only in double-time, as the saying goes.

The workouts, staged part and parcel at shadowless Dillard Middle School, were steeped in two things: speed and the ever-present drain of Wayne County's summer heat index.

There were hills, of course, and technique sessions to help No. 7 develop coverage skills that function well against all types of wideouts.

And when that was done, there were twice-weekly track sessions -- a pan-fried series of heats that could Edwin Moses blush.

"We had two days a week where he would actually do track work, timed," his father recalled. "200s, 100s, 80s, 60s, 40s, 20s and 10s... at the college level, it's about competing. In practice, every day is a competition."


Dawson's tireless, no-frills approach to hard work -- one that he came by honestly as the son of a former collegiate player -- certainly isn't for the squeamish, nor is it for those who merely desire a few press clippings.

It's for winners.

And as one might imagine, more than a few folks -- at places like Brevard, Elizabeth City State, North Carolina Wesleyan and Averette University in Danville, Va., to name a few -- were watching.

"He's studied technique, and put a lot of time and effort in trying to get better," Brooks said of his star. "They (St. Andrews) were in need, especially looking for guys that can play special teams, with good speed that would be willing to tackle. I think that is where he's going to fit in initially."

The remainder will largely be up to Dawson, who is acutely aware of what he must do to secure downs as a freshman.

"Basically, bulk up, gain weight and come in ready to play," the cornerback said.

Spoken like a young man who knows the meaning of direction and hard work, and who would never -- as in ever -- confuse Instagram with anything resembling real value.