The path to becoming the Big 12 defensive player of the year and a third-round NFL Draft pick was steeply uphill for former TCU linebacker Paul Dawson.
After spending a season in the JUCO ranks, Dawson entered TCU with just one year of experience at linebacker, making the move from wide receiver after high school.
Integrating into TCU head coach Gary Patterson’s highly complex 4-2-5 system created some growing pains for Dawson, he said Tuesday at a post-draft press conference at TCU.
“It was kind of hard for me to adjust, still learning the fundamentals and then coming in learning a new defensive scheme,” Dawson said. “It was pretty hard, but I got it within the year and I ended up playing the next year.”
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Patterson must look to a whole knew corps of linebackers this season with Dawson, Jonathan Anderson and Marcus Mallet departing. Some of the same growing pains could be there for the next line, several of whom are true freshman, including Mike Freeze and Alec Dunham.
“I’m going to tell you, it ain’t easy,” Dawson said. “It’s not easy at all to learn the scheme, but that’s what makes us so good — being able to be able to adjust to any little thing on the field is what they need to be ready for. Hopefully they practice and put in the extra time like I did to get ready for it.”
The holes on defense, however, didn’t concern Dawson when looking ahead to TCU’s 2015-16 season, holding faith Patterson’s defensive prowess to make up for inexperience up the middle.
“Believe in Coach P because Coach P knows what he’s talking about,” Dawson said to those linebackers. “Believe in Coach P and just keep working. Everything is going to work out as long as you start believing and have faith, everything will work out for you.”