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  • Duke Dawson, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Florida Gators, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

    Duke Dawson became the first true freshman since 2011 to return an interception for a touchdown in a game. / Gator Country photo by David Bowie

Florida Gators sophomore
spotlight: Duke Dawson

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Written by Nick de la Torre, June 27, 2015, 0 Comments,
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It was quite the introduction for the defensive back from Cross City. After enrolling early at the University of Florida to begin his Gator career a semester early, Duke Dawson earned the trust of the coaching staff and playing time in the season opener against the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

Dawson intercepted a pass and took it 36-yards for a score. It was the first time a Florida Gators true freshman had returned an interception for a touchdown since De’Ante Saunders did it against the Furman Paladins in 2011.

Like that, the young player from just about an hour away from Gainesville had introduced himself to Gator Nation.

2014 season stats: 14 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception, 1 pass breakup

Dawson played in 11 games as a freshman, including one start at safety. Dawson had played both cornerback and safety in high school and when he arrived at Florida he continued working at both positions in the spring. As the season went on the need for safety became more pressing than cornerback and Dawson moved to the backend of the defense.

Dawson remained at safety this spring when Defensive Coordinator Geoff Collins took over the defense and he was used as a backup to Marcus Maye and Keanu Neal in base packages and heavily when Florida would go into nickel and dime sets.

Dawson will be a key contributor on special teams in 2014 and will continue to earn playing time on defense, working into the rotation in the secondary.

Nick de la Torre

About Nick de la Torre

A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC

http://www.gatorcountry.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Florida-Gators-LSU-Tigers-The-Swamp-October-11-2014-Super-Gallery-Florida-Football-LSU-Wins-Duke-Dawson-150x150.jpg Nick de la Torre FeatureFootball ,,,,,,
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It was quite the introduction for the defensive back from Cross City. After enrolling early at the University of Florida to begin his Gator career a semester early, Duke Dawson earned the trust of the coaching staff and playing time in the season opener against the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

Dawson intercepted a pass and took it 36-yards for a score. It was the first time a Florida Gators true freshman had returned an interception for a touchdown since De’Ante Saunders did it against the Furman Paladins in 2011.

Like that, the young player from just about an hour away from Gainesville had introduced himself to Gator Nation.

2014 season stats: 14 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception, 1 pass breakup

Dawson played in 11 games as a freshman, including one start at safety. Dawson had played both cornerback and safety in high school and when he arrived at Florida he continued working at both positions in the spring. As the season went on the need for safety became more pressing than cornerback and Dawson moved to the backend of the defense.

Dawson remained at safety this spring when Defensive Coordinator Geoff Collins took over the defense and he was used as a backup to Marcus Maye and Keanu Neal in base packages and heavily when Florida would go into nickel and dime sets.

Dawson will be a key contributor on special teams in 2014 and will continue to earn playing time on defense, working into the rotation in the secondary.

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