Former Boyle County star Lamar Dawson expected to star at USC
Former Boyle County standout Lamar Dawson (55) says he's happy at Southern California and knows he made the right college choice. The Trojans are 5-1, ranked 11th and Dawson says still in contention for a national championship. (Photo courtesy USC / October 15, 2012)
“I am a little bit surprised by how things have gone, but I was expecting to eventually be a starter and leader on defense,” said Dawson. “I always wanted to wear No. 55. There’s so much history associated with it and it was a great honor to get that number. But the biggest thing is I just have to keep improving and making my team better.”
Dawson emerged as a started midway of his freshman season and had 25 tackles in eight games. He was injured most of preseason camp this year and did not hit his stride until a few weeks ago when he had 19 tackles in a two-game span. He now has 15 solo stops and 13 assists in five games.
“I am totally healthy now and can make plays again and help the team,” he said. “I’ve always been a team player, but it’s not much fun to be hurt and not able to contribute.”
While he says he “loves life” in California, he insists he has not really changed the style of play that made him one of the nation’s top high school player when he was at Boyle.
“I have not really changed the way I play,” he said. “I still play the same. My focus is still the same. As a person, now I think I am becoming a man. Being away from home and at a great school like this has helped me grow up. I think I am handling it all okay, too.”
The Trojans ((5-1, 3-1 Pac-12) came into the season considered a favorite to win the national title by many. The stumbled in a loss to Stanford, but still are ranked 11th.
“Obviously if we win out, we still have our chance to win the championship,” Dawson said.
Dawson knows the adulation that Kentucky basketball players get in the Bluegrass. He says it is a bit different in the Los Angeles area with USC football players.
“We get attention from a lot of fans, but it is not like what Kentucky basketball players get,” Dawson laughed and said. “The city is so big and you have so many things to do. But it’s nice.”
He’s only been home two times since he left Boyle for Los Angeles.
“It’s a little hard to get home. I miss my family and friends, but it’s just hard to get back,” he said. “I am meeting a lot of people here and making a lot of great future connections. So life is good. There’s a lot to do. I go to the beach or restaurants I’ve never been to before. I definitely love the weather and don’t miss the winters back home.”
Dawson says the USC coaches are pushing him to become more vocal, something that is not always easy for him.
“I think I¿am becoming more vocal, but not as vocal as they want me to be yet,” Dawson, who is still undecided about his major but is leaning to sociology, said. “I¿am getting a lot more comfortable and confident, so hopefully I¿am getting there.”
Dawson knows he still has plenty of supporters in Boyle County and is glad USC games are on TV for fans to see.
“You can’t worry about the games being on TV or the attention you are getting,” Dawson said. “You just have to stay ready to play.”
He also won’t think about what his play could mean to a possible NFL career.
“You can’t really think much about that. Every day I just try to progress. If I do that, the future is going to work out just fine,” he said.
Dawson also has a message for those Boyle fans who supported him in high school — and also were hoping he might stay a little closer to home to play college football so they could see him in person.
“Just tell them I¿believe I made the right decision, I am doing fine and I still appreciate all the support they gave me,” Dawson said.