With the freedom to move from school to school thru the NCAA Transfer Portal, a player can find what he feels is a better fit for him, be it positionally, academically or personally. For new USC defensive end commitment Terrell Dawkins (6-4 235), the fit for him in the NC State defense was not the best, and he believes what the Gamecocks are doing under Clayton White will give him a better opportunity to reach his full potential.
“The system (at NC State) is a three-down front, and that’s not something I’m supposed to play,” Dawkins said. “In 2020, I had a solid year for my first year playing. I did pretty good, but overall, that’s not a system I was happy playing in. In talking to the coaches at State, we both understood that I needed to be in a different program so I can really flourish and let my talents flourish. I had great conversations with all my coaches at State. They trust and believe that wherever I go would be great. I just took the jump.”
At first, Dawkins looked hard at Florida State and he took a visit to Tallahassee earlier in the week. Then, the Gamecocks expressed interest and that started the wheels turning that led to a visit this weekend and his decision to join Shane Beamer’s program.
“South Carolina has always been one of those schools that I wanted to play at,” Dawkins said. “I didn’t pay too much attention to them during the season because I had to worry about my own season. As soon as the GA hit me up, he used to work at State, he said the coaches had interest in me and wanted me to come down. The coaches started calling me and telling me they want me there, so they immediately became one of the top schools for me. They went 7-6, not the best record in the world, but I saw that it was Coach Beamer’s first year there. 7-6 for a first-year head coach is phenomenal. I just know he’s building the system and the program in the right way, and that’s something I can easily trust. As soon as I got that call from them saying they had interest, they immediately became one of the top schools I was considering.”
Beamer is building the culture in his program around love for one another and trust. Dawkins said he felt plenty of that on his visit.
“The main thing for me was the relationships and the environment with the football program,” Dawkins said. “Talking to Coach White and Coach Beamer, I felt genuine love from them. I felt they really wanted me. With this being my second go-around in the recruiting process, I’d already been through it when I was like 16 or 17 and going through all the smoke and mirrors, they were just real with me. I just felt the real love and need that they had in me. And I felt like they really trusted and believed I can make a difference in the program. That was just something I really was looking for during this whole recruiting process.”
The Gamecocks are losing two veteran defensive ends in JJ Enagbare at the Buck and Aaron Sterling on the opposite side. Quality backups due return in the form of Jordan Burch, Jordan Strachan and others. Still, Dawkins sees a need for a player like him in the Gamecocks’ defensive front.
“They see me as having an immediate impact,” Dawkins said. “I will get to compete for the number one spot. They see me being that Buck position that they play in that four- down. They know I can be really great and I’m a great fit for that position.”
USC currently does not have a coach for Dawkins’ position. Mike Peterson left earlier in the week for Florida. Beamer is looking for a suitable replacement, and Dawkins said that’s no longer an issue for him.
“At first it did concern me, but just talking to them and seeing how they really felt about me, and Coach White always talking to me and saying he trusts me and thinks I’m going to be a great fit for this program, it just made it easy that I know they are going to bring in the right guy,” Dawkins said. “Whoever it’s going to be, I just know it’s going to be a person that’s going to help me as a man and make me a better football player. That’s something I’m not even stressing about anymore.”
Dawkins still has some transfer paperwork to complete, and he hopes to be able to start classes at USC by the end of next week or the following Monday. He definitely plans to be on campus for all of the off-season workouts and spring practice.
Dawkins is a native of Concord, NC. He began his career at State in 2019 by playing in the maximum four games before being redshirted. He led all ACC freshman in 2020 with 4.5 sacks and had 36 tackles. He was named the team’s top rookie. Dawkins had off-season surgery that kept him out of drills last spring, summer and in the fall. He didn’t rejoin the team until the fourth game of the season. and recorded just 6 tackles with no sacks. He finished his career in Raleigh with 42 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks.
He will have three years of eligibility with the Gamecocks, and he gives them a total of 27 spots in their 2022 class including signees, commitments and transfers that count in the class.