CROSS CITY, Fla. - The Florida coaching staff got some good news for the future on Tuesday afternoon when Cross City (Fla.) Dixie County 2014 cornerback Duke Dawson gave his verbal pledge to the Gators.
"Being a Gator is just great," said Dawson immediately after making his announcement in his high school auditorium. "I love both Florida and Florida State, but Florida was just showing more love than Florida State."
The four-star defensive back standout noted that another reason behind his commitment is that his relationship with the Florida coaches is very tight.
"I just have a great relationship with all of the coaches," state Dawson. "Every time I go they talk positive about me. Since day one when I met T-Rob [UF secondary coch Travaris Robinson] I knew he was going to be a goofy guy and fun to be around and that's the type of coach I want to have."
It was Robinson who first got word of this Rivals250 Watch List member's plan to commit.
" I texted him and told him a little bit before and he was happy and glad to have me," said Dawson. "He was really fired up and wanted me to send him some pictures of me making my announcement."
Florida head coach Will Muschamp's defensive background also caught this 5-foot-11, 184-pound junior's eye.
"He is great and we are really close and since I went to his camp back in June he would tell me, "Boy you gonna be a Gator aren't you?" and I would just tell him I don't know yet."
While Dawson also held offers from Iowa, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Florida State, it was the Gators who always held the edge.
"Since day one I knew I wanted to go to Florida, but I just didn't want to commit that early and not get treated the same. But the love has always been there."
Dawson's choice of the Gators wasn't just his to make, according to him, it was a family decision, that came with a twist. For the most part Dawson's family is filled with Florida State fans (his cousin, UF 2013 commit Marcell Harris being an exception), but according to Duke's mother Monique Dawson it was the future after football that made the Gators stand out.
"This day just feels so good, but it makes me sad because it is like I am losing my babies. But I am just so happy. Watching him go back and forward between Florida and Florida State was frustrating, but it was never hard on him because once he knew he was ready."
While young men tend to focus on the football side of things, parents usually look at the bigger picture.
"The academics at Florida was what all of us fell in love with, it was more than just football," explained Mrs. Dawson. "Florida had people on campus that would take care of us every time. Brendan [Donovan] always was good about showing us whatever we wanted to see when we were there at UF."
Going forward Dawson hope to get back to UF sometime during the spring, but said it will be tough due to him in the full swing of basketball season.
Dawson is Florida's fourth commitment from the Class of 2014. All four are rated as four-stars and are members of the Rivals250 Watch List.