Dawkins finds right fit at Indiana

This is all new to Brandon Dawkins.

The transfer process, the Midwestern setting, the veteran role in a young quarterback room — all of it foreign to the former Arizona starting quarterback. Yet as he sought a fresh start for his final year of eligibility, navigating the graduate transfer market in search of a new home, Dawkins settled on one school.

At Indiana, he saw an opportunity to compete, play and win immediately.

After graduating from Arizona next month, Dawkins will join IU’s program in time to compete for the starting quarterback job later this summer. Dawkins, who also received interest from Florida Atlantic, Nebraska and UCLA, among others, visited IU’s campus in late March.

And on Tuesday, he decided to become a Hoosier.

“Everybody was just really fired up, and I felt a really good vibe about the program,” Dawkins told The Herald-Times. “They want to win.”

Part of a winning equation for Indiana in 2018 centers on identifying its quarterback. The Hoosiers watched rising redshirt sophomore Peyton Ramsey and true freshman Michael Penix begin the competition during the spring practice, while declining to rule out a graduate transfer if the right fit emerged.

Consider Dawkins that fit.

Not only does he possess the dual-threat profile Allen targets at quarterback, he adds coveted experience to a position room full of youth.

Although Dawkins will compete with Ramsey and Penix for the starting job when fall camp begins in August, the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder is the presumed frontrunner for the job.

“To be able to bring in an individual that’s been a starter, that has his maturity and his experience was very, very important to us,” Allen said on Wednesday’s Big Ten teleconference. “We sat the other guys down and talked them through it before we even brought him on a visit. They understood.”

With Dawkins, the Hoosiers are adding yet another quarterback who is just as comfortable running the ball as he is throwing it. In his case, Dawkins’s athleticism and elusiveness appear to be his top strengths.

During his three seasons at Arizona, Dawkins threw for 2,414 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, while completing 56.3 of his passes.

On the ground, he was particularly tough to account for. Overall, Dawkins rushed for 1,582 yards, averaging 6.8 yards per carry, scored 20 rushing touchdowns and averaged 68.8 yards rushing per game.

He started nine of the 10 games he played in 2016, when he finished fourth in the Pac-12 Conference with 94.4 rushing yards per game. Dawkins was the only quarterback ranked inside the league’s top 10.

Last fall, Dawkins started Arizona’s first five games before getting injured early in a Week 5 win at Colorado. Backup Khalil Tate entered for Dawkins and set the Football Bowl Subdivision quarterback single-game rushing record against the Buffaloes, staking his claim to the starting job the rest of the way.

When he began looking at transfer options, Indiana caught his attention, both with its academic and football prospects.

After graduating from Arizona in May with a concentration in broadcast journalism, Dawkins hopes to pursue graduate studies inside IU’s Media School. Dawkins said finding a school with a strong communications track was as important to him as finding a football team.

“First and foremost, I’m going to grad school for a higher education,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere just to play ball. Definitely one of the main questions I had for schools was being able to get into their journalism or media school.”

Beyond that, coaching connections mattered, too.

At IU, Dawkins immediately felt drawn to quarterbacks coach Nick Sheridan and offensive coordinator Mike DeBord. Dawkins cited Sheridan’s Big Ten playing experience at Michigan and DeBord’s work both in college and the NFL as major selling points.

“Having a quarterbacks coach that has played the position at a very high level, that’s something that’s huge to me,” Dawkins said. “I don’t feel like you can coach the quarterback position without having played at a high level. It’s just one of those positions you can’t really substitute knowledge for. That jumped out at me, as well as Coach DeBord.

“His credentials, the people he’s been around in the NFL and collegiately, having Tom Brady and such in college and things like that, his credibility speaks for itself.”

So Dawkins decided to make the jump, making a move that extends his life further East.

Born in Hawaii — his father, Frank, served 30 years in the United States Navy — Dawkins went to high school in California before matriculating at Arizona.

“I’ve constantly been going further East, I guess you could say,” Dawkins said

And when he arrives in Bloomington, he’ll find himself in a brand new situation.

The Hoosiers are hoping he can lead and mentor a young group of quarterbacks during his one and only year with the program. It’s not something Dawkins has been asked to do previously, but those involved believe he’s built for the challenge.

“It’s new to me,” Dawkins said. “I got to college and I was 17 still, so I’ve always been the young guy. It’s been funny going on these trips and being an old head, being the oldest. I went on one trip and one of the people that was supposed to take me on a little trip around the school, they walked right past me. They thought I was one of the coaches, or somebody there to see them. I said, ‘Man, I’m getting old.’ I took a long look in the mirror and started looking for grey hairs already. But for me, all the quarterback rooms I’ve always been in, it’s always a battle, but it’s never been one of those things where you’re scratching and clawing at each other.

“… I feel like I can offer and help a lot with the young guys, mentorship-wise. Even other than football. I’ve done a lot of living, too, in my time. (I’ll do) whatever I can to help out some of the young guys on the field or off the field. They’re gonna find out soon when I get there, but they’re gonna know they can come to me with whatever they need. I’m gonna be able to answer as much as their questions and help as much as I can and do all I can to get the next batch of Indiana quarterbacks ready.”


  1. This is what i don’t get he frequently gets injured the last 2 years he’s missed time and 56 percent in todays age is not very good im not seeing it i watched a few AZ games in the last few years and he just okay as a QB when he’s actually on the field dual threat QBs are always a dicey proposition

  2. He gives the QB room experience they don’t have and increases the option. Without him think about if Ramsey was the starter and got hurt again we would turn to freshman or redshirt freshman QB with no game experience; does that make more sense? Now IU has several options if there is an injury. His completion percentage is part of Rich Rod’s offense and I hope Dawkins shows he can do much better at IU. IU’s QB room is better now and has more options for the season.

    1. Totally disagree either you are accurate or you’re not that has nothin to do with the offense if anything IU offense throws it more than Richrod’s offense which will expose him as not that good of a passer he’s basically just another guy nothin special who gets injured as i said i watched him play he can run yes but as a passer 15 td’s and 12 int’s for a career and thats an upgrade? no one can say this is an upgrade cuz his numbers just doesn’t say so

  3. brownbomber if you heard any of Tom Allen’s weekly Big Ten conference call he said why they went after Dawkins was for the experience in the QB room, outside of Ramsey no one else has ever stepped on the field in a meaningful game. Second, the offense will not necessarily be a pass first offense. He stated if you look at the QBs they have on the roster now, they all have similar games and styles. Last year the issue was that they had to split offensive practices around two different styles due to not knowing who was really going to get the majority of the snaps come Saturday. That doesn’t have to happen anymore. They will practice one style the entire week because the style these QBs play are so similar they can insert a new QB and the game plan and calling doesn’t have to change. This was all from Tom Allen’s mouth.

  4. BB,
    I’m going to have agree with V13 and IU92 on this one. I think the style of offense played does have an impact on certain players. Rich Rod runs an offense predicated on run first and pass to keep the defense honest. Has the same strengths and weaknesses you see in other offensive schemes such as Paul Johnson’s at Georgia Tech. Problem is when you have that run first mentality the passing game tends to suffer simply because of lack of emphasis. The QB may have a good and even accurate arm, but it is not going to be as sharp if passing is not the top priority.

    As for Dawkins, I think he is a quality get for IUFB if for no other reasons than the intangibles which only experience can bring. It is no shame to him to lose his starting position to an exceptional talent out in Arizona. I think TA wants to tap into Dawkins experience to rapidly grow his very talented up and coming QB in the true Freshman Penix. You can see where this will benefit every QB on the roster including PR. The biggest thing as mentioned in other posts is he fits the same prototype as the other QBs on the roster.

    I think we are seeing the evolution of the style of offense TA desires. One which can effectively control the football and the clock. I believe the style envisioned by TA will compliment his intentions of building extremely dominant defenses. Nothing helps a good defense become great better than keeping them off the field as much as possible with an effective offense geared to doing so. I don’t think the TA offense will be either run or pass first, but rather a balance attack capable of doing either with a reasonable amount of effectiveness.

  5. Seriously i dont know what you people are seeing GT and richrods offense runs it alot and that pretty much where it ends 2014 arizona averaged 291 yards passing and around 190 rushing en route to the fiesta bowl so there that is this was a useless pick-up cuz he’s a senior and basically has not gotten better over hyped addition that wont make much impact

  6. Let’s put this in some context.

    In his sophomore year, the closest Dawkins had to a full season as a starter with 10 games, Dawkins had more yards from scimmage, fewer turnovers, and more touchdowns than Tom Brady did his senior year at Michigan in 12 games.

    The junior season, in which he played enough to have 114 passing attempts, he passed for a higher completion percentage than Tom Brady did as a senior.

    If you want to bad mouth this kid go for it but you can’t do it with statistics.

  7. Here are some pertinent stats:

    2015 – 2 passing TD’s – 2 INT’s – 2 Rushing TD’s
    2016 – 8 ” TD’s – 6 INT’s – 10 ” TD’s
    2017 – 5 ” TD’s – 4 INT’s – 8 ” TD’s

    With a career completion of 56% lets not fool ourselves, he is a rushing QB and a damn good 1. Just as RR covets.
    I’ve now watched 3 videos of him and his throwing motion is ‘a bit’ different and supports he is not Tom Brady or even Patrick Ramsey. No sense not keeping my fingers crossed but I am going to use both hands.

    1. Philip Rivers has a very odd throwing motion. Bernie Kosar had a pretty good career with a bizarre throwing motion.

      Edward Wright-Baker had a pretty throwing motion.

  8. BB, I watched Dawkins in every game he played for AZ (live and on TV). He is not the most accurate passer in college football, but overall he was a more productive quarterback than anyone IU has had in a long time (perhaps with the exception of Sudfeld). He completed 62% of his passes in the five games he started in 2017 (until he got hurt). In 2016, AZ had a terrible team and an even worse defense. They were playing from behind in almost every game, requiring the QB to take a lot more risks. He and Tate were the reasons AZ’s running game was so successful for two seasons, because it sure wasn’t AZ’s offensive line! He’s a quality get for Allen and for IU. I’m confident you will come to appreciate his value to IU shortly after the 2018 season begins.

  9. Keep in mind that in 2016 Dawkins had a 79-yard touchdown run and rushed for 176 yards against Washington, a team with a great defense and a team that played Alabama in the FBS semifinals. He had 66-yard touchdown run in 2017. I think the last IU quarterback to make a long TD run was Tre Roberson in 2012, but it was against Indiana State. Remember Lamar Jackson, 2016 Heisman Trophy winner? His completion percentage that year was 56%, (54.7% in 2015 and 59% in 2017), but he ran for 1,571 yards in 2016. Jackson’s average yards per carry were actually lower than Dawkins’ average that same season. Dawkins was probably the third best deal-threat quarterback in the country in 2017. Unfortunately, one of the only guys that was better was his teammate, Khalil Tate! Hence, he is transferring to IU.

    1. Like I said, rag on the guy if you want but you can’t do it based on statistics. Show me one that indicates he is below par and I’ll show you ten that say you’re wrong.

      I’ll be very surprised if he is not the starter and I’ll bet he provides some dazzling moments next year.

      Does anyone think for a second, based on what we have observed, he is not immediately the best QB on the roster?

  10. Chet, you are correct in both of your last two posts. I was thinking starting quarterbacks when I wrote that. But Zander did in fact have three long runs at IU. One for 79 yards against OSU, one for 53 yards, and one for 59 yards. Zander was fast and elusive. Too bad he only weighed about 168 lbs. throughout his IU career. But it was fun to watch him run.

    1. Let’s compare comparisons. We can compare Dawkins to other college football QBs/legendary NFL QBs, or we can compare him to other IUFB QBs. He may not be any wunderkind compared to the former, but as to the latter I like what we got.

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