UGA, Vandy duke it out for Josh Dawson

As the clock struck midnight Saturday, the contact period was finally done. There will be no more off-campus contact or official visits before signing day arrives Wednesday. But the Georgia Bulldogs were able to squeeze in one last in-home with outside linebacker target Josh Dawson (Tucker, Ga./Tucker). The 6-foot-4, 228-pound senior has been committed to Vanderbilt since last summer, but the Bulldogs have not given up in their attempts to reel in the talented edge rusher. The Commodores had made their last pitch earlier in the week.

“The last time I saw Vanderbilt was Tuesday after my basketball game,” Dawson said. “Coach [Sean] Spencer and Coach [Bob] Shoop had a little PowerPoint presentation and showed me some clips on how they could use me. I think it was a productive visit.”

Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin made an in-home with Dawson this month, and Saturday night Dawson was expecting to see Georgia head coach Mark Richt, but he said Richt make it, because of a family emergency. Dawson was not affected by Richt’s absence.

“We understand that family comes first, so that was not a big deal,” Dawson said.

Richt was still able to send his recruiting coordinator and defensive coordinator to the Dawson home. Rodney Garner had been by several times already, so this was Todd Grantham’s turn to sell his defense.

“Coach Grantham explained to my parents how he could use me,” Dawson said. “He also discussed his coaching background, the players he developed in the NFL, and the players he has put in the NFL, so I think that was very informative for my parents.”

Grantham arrived in Tucker prepared with a presentation on exactly how he would be utilized in Georgia’s 3-4 defense.

“Coach Grantham had a package he brought to the house with diagrams on how he would use me at sam or will, and in nickel package I would be a buck rusher, so he had it all laid out so my parents could better understand,” Dawson said. “He also had a paper showing everyone he has coached, how many Pro-Bowls they have played in and what he did with the Dallas Cowboys, so that helped my parents a lot.”

For athletes who play at the FBS level, the free education they receive gives them a great opportunity to find a career path after graduation. But like most highly touted prospects, the dream of playing professional football is often just as, if not more alluring. Dawson acknowledges one coaching staff has more history in that regard.

“Going by what I know now I would say I think Coach Richt and Coach Grantham have a better chance of getting me to the NFL because they have already put people in the NFL,” Dawson said. “This is Coach Franklin’s first full year as a head coach, but anything could happen and I could be wrong.”

According to the Tucker standout, both programs have a lot to offer.

Georgia: “It is close to home, they have a winning tradition and a lot of history.”

Vanderbilt: “It is an up and coming program with a great recruiting class and a great coaching coaching staff.”

Throughout January, Georgia has made a push to try and reel in Dawson. The Vanderbilt staff has not conceded their prized commitment, and increased their efforts to retain Dawson as part of their class, considered by many to be one of the best in recent memory for the Commodores.

“Both schools have done a great job recruiting me over the last month,” Dawson said. “If I am not talking to Vandy, I am talking to Georgia, and if I am not talking to Georgia I am talking to Vandy. They have both put a lot of pressure on me, and that is what you want to see is if each school makes you feel loved.”

Dawson admitted nothing had changed in regards to his status as a Vanderbilt commit, he was not ready to name them a leader heading into his final decision.

“Right now I am still in the same place, and that is that both schools are even,” Dawson said. “The next few days I will be doing a lot of thinking, and once I find the program I feel I fit in the best with and the staff and players I am most comfortable with, then I will be able to pick the school I feel is best for me. Hopefully by Tuesday I can call the coaches with my decision and let everyone else know Wednesday”

As he drove home from church Sunday afternoon, Dawson admitted he was anxious for signing day to come.

“I am ready to sign so I can focus on preparing for the next level,” Dawson said.

In two days everyone will know whether Dawson’s preparation will be for his arrival in Athens or Nashville.