UF football: Dawson set to take over at cornerback

Florida defensive back Duke Dawson (7) celebrates after breaking up a pass intended for Georgia wide receiver Terry Godwin (5) on a fourth-down play during the second half of the Oct. 29 game last year in Jacksonville. Dawson has proven his versatility in the defensive backfield. [File] Matt Stamey

He adapted and proved himself when he was asked to play safety. The same occurred when he was sent to the nickel position in the Florida secondary. Now, it’s on to cornerback for Duke Dawson.

Should be no problem there.

After all this time, Dawson finds himself back in his most natural position heading into his senior season, and he’s excited about the opportunity to show it’s where he belongs.

"It wasn’t a tough decision. I mean I played corner in high school, so it’s really nothing different,” he said. “It’s just me knocking the rust off. I played nickel for the past year. Safety. Just getting my feet back wet at the corner position. It’s going to be all right."

It should be based on the steady progress Dawson has made throughout his UF career.

In the second half of last season, Dawson may have been UF’s best cover defensive back, and that’s saying something in a secondary that included two projected first-round NFL draft picks in cornerbacks Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson.

With opposing quarterbacks trying to avoid Tabor and Wilson whenever possible, Dawson was challenged often last season — and he responded by leading the Gators in pass break-ups with seven.

He showed great cornerback skills over the second half in 2016. Now, he is a cornerback again.

He said he doesn’t feel any pressure helping to replace Tabor and Wilson.

“There’s no filling for those guys. I don’t have to fill any shoes,” he said. “I know what I can do, so it’s a matter of just coming out, working every day and just perfecting my craft."

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