Dawkins eager to settle in at Indiana

By the end of this summer, Brandon Dawkins has a list of things he’d like to accomplish.

The quarterback would like to learn Indiana’s offense to the best of his ability, form impactful relationships with his new teammates and coaches and build up his body to game-ready conditioning levels.

But first, Dawkins is simply trying to learn the terrain.

The graduate transfer quarterback from Arizona has only been in Bloomington for a week. He didn’t move into his new apartment until Thursday and is still trying to memorize the directions from his new home to Indiana’s campus.

“I tried that yesterday,” Dawkins said. “I got lost about two minutes in. I only live two miles from here and still got lost, so I’m still trying to learn my way around.”

Although there’s much for Dawkins to learn during the coming weeks and months, there’s already one thing he’s certain about.

He wants to leave a meaningful impression on Indiana football during his lone season with the program.

“I want to do whatever I can, do my part to put more wins in the win-loss column for this team, end on a positive note, go to a good bowl and have an overall really good season,” Dawkins said.

Although he’ll have to earn the starting job during fall camp in August, fighting off challengers Peyton Ramsey, a redshirt sophomore, and true freshman Michael Penix, Dawkins is the presumed frontrunner to become IU’s quarterback in time for the Hoosiers’ season opener at Florida International on Sept. 1.

Dawkins possesses the most seasoning of any quarterback on IU’s roster, having started 14 of the 23 games in which he played at Arizona. A true dual-threat quarterback, Dawkins threw for 2,414 yards with 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions at Arizona, while rushing for 1,582 yards and 20 scores with an average rushing output of 68.8 yards per game.

With summer workouts beginning this week, Dawkins is balancing his time at the football facility with in-depth study sessions of coordinator Mike DeBord’s offense.

“The biggest contrast is just some of the reads they have on offense (at Indiana), having a pure progression offense,” Dawkins said. “That’s not what we did at Arizona. It was a lot more run-pass. Obviously, we’re gonna try to incorporate that because that plays to my skill set, the ability to run and pass and be a dual threat. It’s what the position is — being able to attack the defense from all different angles and including myself, which takes some strain off the running backs.

“Just having those pure progression reads makes it a lot smoother and makes the passing attack, I believe, a lot more stronger. It’s also kind of a more NFL style-based type of offense. Pure progression is what they do in the professional league, having your first progression, then checking down to your second, third and then checking down to your running back. Having that offense to utilize my passing more, I’m kind of looking forward to it.”

And while are new, Dawkins likes what he sees.

During his campus visit in late March, Dawkins was able to immerse himself in the program and observe a spring practice scrimmage. Yet it was what he witnessed after the practice that left the most lasting impression.

“I saw Luke Timian stay after and he caught, like, 200 extra balls from a JUGS machine,” Dawkins said. “Things like that shows players are invested. I wanted to go somewhere were I thought football was important. It seems really important to the guys here and that made me fall in love with it pretty quick. You want people in your program and on your team who are enamored with the sport. That’s how I am.”

As he tries to stake his claim to the starting quarterback job, there’s much for Dawkins still to do beyond football.

He tried to get a student ID on Tuesday, but was rejected (“It is what it is,” he said). He’s still matching names to faces, both with players in the locker room and support staffers around the facility. He’s also still in the process of furnishing his new digs.

All the while, Dawkins is eager to get settled.

“I still have to ask someone to buzz me down so I can get to the weight room every day,” Dawkins said. “… I’m still trying to get acclimated with the guys and the facility as a whole. I’m just developing relationships, really.”

25 comments

  1. I hope he accomplishes is goals and helps IU win more games leading to a winning record. There are many possiblities for the offense in 2018 with Dawkins, Ramsey, even Taylor being on the field at the same time. DeBord could make this a hard offense to defend and he needs to show that this season after being limited in 2017. Of course all of it depends on the OL being improved the way coaches and others are saying they looked in Spring Practice. If the OL is much improved the offense has talented skilled players to take advantage of to stress defenses.

    An explosive offense with a solid defense and a renewed focus on special teams could lead to a special season we all dream about. Now is the time to dream as only the season will show how good the team will be.

  2. Seriously disappointed he didn’t list cleaning up his passing game vs having an offense that takes advantage of his propensity to throw interceptions. As much as he’s played tells me he is very slow to learn to eat the ball. Something PR learned quickly last year.

    1. With Ramsey in the mix Dawkins will have to clean up his passing game or he will have limited time on the field. The article was just asking generalized question so it isn’t surprising he didn’t bring up his passing. Now if they asked what part of his game he needs most improvement in I would have been disappointed if he didn’t bring up his passing. However since he did bring up the difference in passing at IU and Arizona I expect he is focused on cleaning up his passing game. I doubt he will throw any more interceptions than Lagow did in his two seasons.

      1. Now lets see the Wildcat underclassman QB who beat him out didn’t cause him to clean up his passing flaws but IU will. I’m a strong proponent of IU but don’t spend anytime chasing rabbits holes.

  3. I love having 3 really good QB’s competing for the #1 slot in Dawkins, Ramsey and Phenix. Plus the added dimension of Taylor provides many creative possibilities. Coach DeBord needs to open up the offense all of the way. IU needs to score on every possession and let the D bring home the W! I think that this will be a fantastic season, 7-5 or better with 1 W over OSU, PSU, MI or MSU. Go Hoosier Football!

  4. You’re missing a couple of key points about his time at AZ. First, his former offense did not include “progressions.” While he was at AZ, on clear passing situations, it was usually pass it to the primary receiver or take off and run. Eating the ball was not an option in the vast majority of plays Rich Rod called. Secondly, one of the reasons why this was so was because AZ’s offensive line was weak in pass protection, making a running quarterback who was frequently outside the pocket, absolutely essential. AZ’s offense relied on a fast pace and deception to keep defenses off balance. Rarely was AZ’s QB going to be given the protection necessary to drop back in the pocket and then go through three or four progressions before throwing the ball. Secondly, AZ’s defense was so bad, Dawkins was usually trying to come from behind or simply keep pace with the opposing team’s scores. AZ football games were “track meets” with gaudy yards gained and lots of points scored. AZ’s quarterbacks did not have the luxury of playing with a lead too often or the confidence that their defense could stop opponents. That put pressure on them to take risks that other teams’ quarterbacks would not need to take, hence throwing more INTs.

    I’m not saying that there’s not room for improvement, but Dawkins will be IU’s starter, and if he stays healthy, he should be a very productive and successful quarterback for the 2018 season.

  5. O say can you see..I don’t have a campus ID,
    And at Student Services, Dawn was oh, so, very trite,
    Said I should have come at dawn’s early light..
    What so proudly we hail’d a Hail Mary with no true effort
    To get you in candy stripes…with the chrome helmets alas gleaming,

    And the numbers of blank stares, the bombs you’ll throw, they don’t care
    Gave proof through your first day that our flippancy and racism was still there…
    O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave….in full black and white
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the rest not welcome.

  6. “Eager to settle in”….? After getting dismissive results at Student Services, treated like a stranger in strange land, and not having anyone go the extra mile to get me my ID…? Can”t get into the weight room? They made me wait..and now I’ll zoom! I’d be eager to get the hell out faster than I got in. Just get on with your life…Go try out for the Canadian Football League….Why get the hell beat out of you for a bottom-dweller team that can’t even get you an ID?

  7. IU does not have 3 really good qb’s. IU is better than what they had. IU qb’s are not listed in the top 5 of big ten. However, IU has identifiable players that are actually qb’ to play in big ten. Just because you have a qb that originally committed to Vols, and a transfer from Arizona, and kinda know what you got with Ramsey doesn’t make for 3 really good qbs. However, potential is there for improved situation. No TD’S have been scored and no turnovers for 2018. Starvation for wins/winning program doesn’t take hope, wishful thinking, and turn it into fact.

  8. O.K. t, I’ll concede your first point. But in relative terms, IU’s Quarterback Room is stronger than it has been in a long, long time. Overall, T.A.’s overall talent at quarterback this season is probably better than it has been in two decades, if not longer, and that represents significant progress. And if Dawkins adapts well to DeBord’s offense and meshes with his offensive teammates, he could be the difference between IU wining 5 games and IU winning seven games this coming season.

  9. I agree winning difference between 5 and 7. This is the same old story now for many many years (decades) no matter what the reasons or situation regarding IU football. Sometimes less than 5 wins and hard to remember a 7 win season. Then, there is the hope.

  10. I wonder if he was promised the job before he made his decision to transfer here? I can’t say I was ever impressed by him while he played for Arizona. In terms of talent, I think he is the third best option at QB. I think Ramsey will start game one and Penix will get his chance at some point. I like Ramsey as a runner but he’s limited as a passer. I can’t see Ramsey staying healthy the entire season with the amount of running he does.. Once Penix gets in there, I don’t think he’ll ever relinquish the job. Get ready for four years of Penix leading the offense folks!

  11. Anytime IU gets any kind of fb player that has a 3 star ability level or a little higher and in some cases a little lower than 3 star with a little hype IU fans or those who follow IU fb get overly excited…because they are so malnourished and starved for a winning season. I agree this qb lost his job to another qb at Arizona who Purdue beat as bad or worse or dominated more than they did Indiana in a bowl game. Falsely Over expectations by followers of IU fb for not enough valid reasons, currently.

    1. Not exactly false expectations when I watched Penix slice up two defenses loaded with Division 1 recruits with my own eyes last fall. I’m not saying he is going to win the Heisman but he is easily the most talented passer on the team. IU fans should be excited about Penix.

  12. I don’t believe T.A. or DeBord would “guarantee” Dawkins the starting job, but they probably conveyed to him that the starting position was his to lose. Dawkins didn’t transfer to IU to sit on the bench or hold a clip board, and TA would not waste the roster spot on someone that he believed was likely to sit on the bench. Dawkins is far more experienced than any of IU’s other quarterbacks and at least as athletically gifted as Penix. That combination makes him the probable starter as long as he stays healthy.

    Penix appears to be a very gifted athlete and the likely future starter at QB. But he is a true freshman and has never played a college football game. He needs time to learn and develop, and what better way to do that than to be the understudy to an experienced, mature guy like Dawkins?

    As for the impact a good quarterback can have for IU, I think it has potential to make the difference between a winning season and a losing season. Last year, one of IU’s biggest problems was its offense, and that had a lot to do with the quarterbacks. I believe we’ll be much better a quarterback in 2018, because we have the right guys for the system TA and DeBord want to run.

  13. Hunter Johnson, Pat Fitzgerald and staff (program is in excellent hands) @ N.W. for career life, football group of team players, facilities, are pretty solid. Great choice.

  14. Now, back to IU football qb position. IU fb qb position is moving towards average as is rest of team in big ten, currently. Not there yet but working to get there. Reality

    1. v13 – Don’t know if you are still monitoring comments on this old article, but I guess you are as disappointed as I am that the staff has not had any more commits since Beau, and that Hunter Johnson has decided to go to NW. So much for any recruiting momentum. I was further bummed out when the big OT from Huntington committed to MSU after he visited IU a couple weeks ago and stated he wanted to go to a really good business school. Really? MSU?

      I saw where he had gone to IU’s junior camp in February, but that we didn’t offer until he camped again in June, well after MSU offered. I wonder if the staff was after someone else who didn’t materialize and that resulted in the late offer. You have to think the kid would have committed early if he had been offered back in February before MSU started actively recruiting him. Oh well………..

  15. Ranger67, I see that IU is pursuing other OL before his commitment to MSU. IU is pursuing maulers with good athletic ability and I hope they land the ones they are after. It is disappointing that no more commits have happened yet but IU is battling for players that top schools also are interested in so it takes a while to develop a relationship to bring those players in. 2018 will be an important year to get very good players to commit. We will have to see if this staff can recruit B1G quality players over the next two years.

    1. V13, agree with all of your post. I think, however, if a school is way behind their conference competition in commits as the summer wains, that deficit will be used by the competing schools, including non-conference, to convince kids to forego IU. Being in the top 3 or top 5 for some elite athletes isn’t worth a dime unless we get actual commitments from a good portion of these young men.

  16. NCAA approved 3 more bowl games. IU fb chances for a bowl have increased without even winning a game. Why don’t they just open up a tournament that all schools can play in with a bowl name for every game? It could be a copy or similar to the traditional one class Indiana High School Basketball tournament.

  17. Didn’t someone write on this blog a couple years ago that recruiting begins in December? I know that has changed a bit as a result of the early signing period, but I’m not too worried that T.A. and staff have suddenly lost their ability to recruit.

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