It wasn’t the way you want your summer vacation to begin.
Cooper Dawson, a talented football player for the Hanahan Hawks, finished classes on June 4. The next day, the rising senior headed to Clemson for coach Dabo Swinney’s football camp. Little did he know that his senior season would be wiped out in a split second.
The six-foot-five, 250-pound defensive end jumped to catch a pass during a drill. But before he even landed, he suffered a torn ACL and faced surgery, which was successfully completed June 28.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that Clemson offered Dawson a scholarship. He hasn’t committed just yet, but he likes the faith Swinney and his coaching team has in him.
“I just want to make sure it wasn’t out of sympathy,” said Dawson, who also is a talented baseball player. “I don’t want them to offer me just because I got hurt at their camp. I’ve talked to a lot of people and they seem certain it’s because Clemson really wants me. I talked to my dad (Kelly) and he said if it was a sympathy offer, they would have offered me a spot as a walk-on. They have only so many scholarships to offer, so it’s legitimate.”
Dawson suffered the knee injury on the first day of the three-day camp. His mother wanted to drive up to Clemson and bring him home, but Dawson opted to stay.
“My parents already sacrificed the money for me to attend the camp, so I decided to get as much out of it, although I was hobbling around on one leg. That’s one of the things the coaches liked best about me. They liked my motor, and they liked my heart. They said that’s the type of player they want at Clemson.”
So instead of criss-crossing the country to attend football camps, Dawson will rehab to get ready for the 2019 season. His recruiting list is an unusual assortment of schools. Dawson has offers from Colorado State, Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State, Army, Navy, UCF and Old Dominion. He’s also considering Brown and Princeton, a couple of Ivy League schools.
Yes, Dawson is a student-athlete and not just a jock. He has a weighted GPA of 4.49.
Dawson might enroll at college early. He said some schools want their top recruits on campus as soon as possible while other schools want them to enjoy their senior year.
The Clemson scholarship offer excited Dawson. But there is a catch. The Tigers want him as an offensive lineman. But Dawson, the No. 44 strong side defensive end in the country and No. 5 recruit overall in the Palmetto State, prefers defense. He will weigh his options and plans to announce his decision in December.
For now, he’s fortunate that Clemson is still interested in him wearing the orange and white. It also has strengthened his faith.
“God doesn’t make mistakes,” Dawson said. “I’ve been philosophical as well. Things happen for a reason. I just have to find that reason.”