Arizona Football

Dawkins could be QB to stop Cats' recent bad luck

2014-02-04T00:00:00Z 2014-02-04T00:08:58Z Dawkins could be QB to stop Cats' recent bad luckBy Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

It’s not as bad as the Sports Illustrated cover jinx or the Chicago Cubs’ “Curse of the Billy Goat,” but there could be an argument made for a certain hex within the Arizona football program.

Call it the curse of the high school quarterback.

Consider:

  • Since 2002, just one quarterback recruited out of high school — Willie Tuitama — has been a full-time starter for the Wildcats for two or more seasons.
  • Of the 12 high school quarterbacks to sign with Arizona from 2002 to 2011, only four — Tuitama, Kris Heavner, Bryson Beirne and Matt Scott — stayed on the team for four or more years.
  • Of the last six quarterbacks to sign with the UA out of high school, only Anu Solomon, a redshirt last season, remains on the Wildcats’ roster as a signal caller.

Arizona has found success at the most prominent position on the field recently through other avenues. They snagged Nick Foles as a transfer from Michigan State and recruited B.J. Denker out of Cerritos Junior College in California. But the high school route hasn’t been good to the UA.

The jury is still out on Solomon, who is expected to compete for the starting job this spring.

Coach Rich Rodriguez is hopeful he’s adding another impactful piece to the quarterback position on Wednesday during national signing day.

Oaks Christian (Calif.) High School product Brandon Dawkins is expected to ink with the UA and the 6-foot-4-inch, 215-pound dual-threat quarterback will try to succeed where Ryan O’Hara, Mike Beach, John Rattay, Richard Kovalcheck, Tyler Lyon, Cameron Allerheiligen and Daxx Garman failed.

Dawkins verbally committed to the Wildcats in July, choosing the UA over offers from Notre Dame, North Carolina State and Utah. Rodriguez’s up-tempo system fit him perfectly.

“The way (Rodriguez) uses quarterbacks in his offense is perfect for my style and what I do,” Dawkins said in a phone interview Sunday. “There’s not a better situation out there for me. I’m excited to get in there and see what I can do.”

In his final season at Oaks Christian, Dawkins threw for 3,383 yards, 38 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 11 games. He added 537 yards and six scores on the ground and led his team to an 8-3 mark.

He’s rated as the 39th best quarterback recruit in the country by Scout.com and has a rare combination of size and speed that even Rodriguez hasn’t worked with in his time as a quarterback guru.

“You don’t find many athletic quarterbacks that size that have been playing at a high level like he has,” said Scout national analyst Brandon Huffman. “He’s a real intriguing prospect. He has a high ceiling, but he needs to get some coaching. He has a chance to be very good.

“He just needs to continue his development as a quarterback, because there’s times I’ve watched him where he’s looked more like an athlete playing quarterback than a true quarterback.”

In a class where the Wildcats have lost a couple of their most high-profiled recruits, Dawkins never wavered on his commitment to Rodriguez and the UA.

He took an unofficial visit to Arizona in June and knew when he left it was the right fit. He waited about a month to officially commit after checking out a couple of other schools.

“I wasn’t going to commit unless I 100 percent knew where I wanted to go,” Dawkins said. “Once I set my mind on it, I didn’t want to go back and forth.”

The quarterback said after he signs on Wednesday, he’ll receive a weightlifting program from the Wildcats and begin on it right away. He’s been doing on-field work a couple times a week with famed California quarterbacks coach Steve Clarkson.

Dawkins also worked with former Division I quarterbacks Casey Clausen (Tennessee) and his brother, Rick (LSU), both of whom served as assistants at Oaks Christian.

“I’ve tried to take something from all of them,” Dawkins said. “I’ve done a lot of field work with Steve and then learned a lot of the football stuff from Casey and Rick. I think I’m well prepared to come to Arizona. I want to transition well. The windows get smaller and smaller.

“I just want to be one of those quarterbacks that’s a gym rat and works hard and evolves.”

The UA is hopeful he evolves in a way few other high school products have been able to in Tucson.

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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