Dawkins' determination brings football success
The following story appears in the latest edition of Blue White Illustrated's magazine, which has printed and shipped to our print subscribers and is on newsstands throughout Pennsylvania.
When the offers started to flood in and the media inquiries followed, a slightly nervous Nick Dawkins did what his football instincts led him to do: He buried himself in film. Well… sort of.
Dawkins found interview videos online of some of the stronger personalities in sports and pop culture. Among his favorites: Muhammad Ali and Kanye West.
Now, this type of thing comes naturally for Dawkins, a Penn State offensive line commit who is as charismatic as he is talented.
“I like to be involved in conversation, especially classroom conversation and such,” Dawkins said in a recent phone interview. “So I would say I’m boring, but I’m also a little bit outgoing.”
Dawkins thinks it’s important to separate his life on the field from his life away from it – where he falls into a similar routine almost every day. He comes home from practice, reviews film, looks at his scouting report, does any classwork that requires his attention and then immerses himself in TV or YouTube videos with friends or family – laid-back activities for a laid-back guy.
On the field, Dawkins is totally different.
“When I’m on the field and you’re across from me, you’re not my friend,” Dawkins said. “On the field, it’s just war. That’s all it is.”
Rated by Rivals.com as a three-star prospect, the Allentown resident is the No. 12 recruit in Pennsylvania. This year, he’s helped lead Parkland High School to a double-digit-win season and a deep postseason run, and he hasn’t done it by being nice.
“The next person who’s in front of me, who’s lined up across from me, is keeping me from my goals and success with my brothers,” Dawkins said. “That’s kind of where it comes from. I always channel my anger throughout the week because I don’t take it out on anyone. I take it out physically.”
Listed at 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, Dawkins is one of the bigger players on the field at any time, so he mostly lines up at tackle for the Trojans.
He said he expects he’ll move into the interior at Penn State, depending on how much weight he adds when he gets to University Park.
Among the strengths of his game are his footwork and foot speed, especially for his size. Dawkins tabbed his long reach as a tool he can use at the next level to hold off defensive linemen in pass protection. He also listed pad placement and pad level in the run game as the assets he’ll bring to the Nittany Lions.
But for Dawkins, it’s easier to talk about the things he doesn’t do well. Like so many high-level athletes, he focuses on the areas in which he can improve rather than being self-congratulatory toward the strengths of his game.
“I have more critiques on my game than positives because I just always want to get better,” he said.
He wants to play lower. He wants to be more aggressive with his punch. He wants to improve his flexibility and stamina.
He’s straightforward with himself, and Penn State was straightforward with him, too, throughout the recruiting process. For Dawkins, who received 29 scholarship offers, including offers from Pittsburgh, Tennessee, West Virginia, UCF and Louisville, the staff’s restrained approach helped make the decision to attend Penn State easy.
He didn’t feel as though the Nittany Lions were trying to sell him something. They weren’t blowing up his phone with text messages. They wanted to have real and honest conversations, and that’s what clicked with Dawkins.
“A lot of schools, their tactics are always different with how they recruit,” Dawkins said. “I would get 50 text messages from every single coach from one school. I didn’t really like that.
“Penn State, they would check up on me. When I talked to them, it was always just a normal conversation. It wasn’t just recruit to a coach.”
For an outgoing guy like Dawkins, that was more than enough.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said.
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What else is in the latest issue of Blue White Illustrated's magazine? Let's take a closer look at some of the feature stories, news and notes, here!
FOOTBALL - We've got yet another issue packed with football as the Nittany Lions wrap up their 2019 regular season. Feature stories in this issue include: Penn State's offensive line and the trio of veterans that have helped mold the unit into what it is today, Sean Clifford's emergence at quarterback in the face of uncertain expectations to start the season, tight end Pat Freiermuth's big impact on the Nittany Lion offense, and more.
PHIL'S CORNER - With a specific set of improvements for Penn State moving forward, the Nittany Lions could become one of the best teams in college football, BWI publisher Phil Grosz writes. And really, given the Nittany Lions' excellent 10-2 campaign in 2019, they'll be necessary to take a next step in the coming year.
RECRUITING - As always, BWI recruiting analyst Ryan Snyder has your Penn State football recruiting fix. In this issue, he checks in for a full one-on-one interview with four-star offensive lineman verbal commitment Jimmy Christ. Other features include Up Close and Personals with Tyler Warren and Nick Dawkins.
HOOPS - BWI men's basketball beat writer Nate Bauer takes a look at the variety Penn State has shown early this season in its ability to score, and how that could shape the Nittany Lions' chances at success through the rest of the 2019-20 season.
WRESTLING - BWI's Jim Carlson has you covered as the Nittany Lions wrestlers begin the defense of their 2019 national championship
And these are just a few of the many stories and features that come with every edition of Blue White Illustrated's magazine, including Varsity Views notebook, Scorecard, The Last Word, and more!