Gators reloading with talent in secondary, Dawson says

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Duke Dawson
Florida cornerback Duke Dawson answers questions during SEC Media Days last week at the Hyatt Regency - Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala. Dawson, a Cross City native, enters his senior campaign with 48 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two interceptions, which were both returned for touchdowns. [Gary Cosby Jr./GateHouse Media Services]

Five questions with Florida senior cornerback Duke Dawson, a Preseason All-SEC first-team selection:

After last season, there was a strong sentiment that you would head for the NFL draft. Then a talk with Florida assistant coach Randy Shannon helped change your mind. What did he say to you?

“We didn’t just talk about football, we talked about life itself. Talking about everything that goes on outside of football, once I get into the real world. We just talked about, not just football, we talked about other things as well. That was what I was looking to hear.”

To know a coach of Randy Shannon’s stature, a guy who has helped put many players in the NFL, has that much confidence in you, how powerful was that?

“It felt great to know that the coaches have got confidence, have got faith in me. That’s what I try to do day in and day out, try to bring consistency, that’s one thing I’m really working at. Not just in football, but in life itself. Then you got to preach and try to work on it everyday.”

A lot of the outside chatter has concerned whether the Gators can replace Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor. Do you feel disrespected that it’s an area of focus?

“It’s just another point to prove for me. I feel it’s not about rebuilding, it’s about reloading. That’s what we are doing right now. You can’t think about what we did. Now, we just have to think about the present, and that’s what we work on, day in and day out.”

Does the disrespect motivate you or do you try and ignore it and let your production speak for itself?

“A lot, a lot, I think about it, like I said, every night I lay down in the bed I think about it. I’m up watching some of the best guys in the league. Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, watching a lot of those guys just, looking at the things that they see, how they play, their game style, I look at everything.”

Looking back on your first three seasons at Florida, how do you feel about your production on the field?

“My first three years have been real bumpy, I feel I can say that. There’s been a lot of ups and downs. Like my sophomore year was probably not my best year. But we all understand that things happen, so I mean, I can’t look at that anymore. I look where I am now, so I just got to focus on where I am at now in the present.”