The Valdosta Daily Times
Kelly Dawsey lived through the most successful era of high school football at Lowndes High School.
A state champion three out of four seasons, Dawsey was one of the state’s top players following the 2007 season. Fast forward five years after a college career, Dawsey is hoping to take his talents to the National Football League.
“It is real exciting,” Dawsey said. “I’m taking it one day at a time, training about four to five times a week and find out as much information about the NFL as I can.”
Dawsey played all four years of his college career at the University of West Georgia. The Wolves finished those four seasons with a 13-27 combined record, including a 3-7 mark this past season.
Regardless, Dawsey said he believes he positioned himself for a future in professional football, something he has always dreamed about since growing up in Lowndes County.
“It was a lot of hard times because I come from Lowndes where we are used to winning,” Dawsey said, of his career with the Wolves.
“The winning percentage at UWG wasn’t what I expected. But my play, I felt like I did pretty well.”
With no pro day set at West Georgia, Dawsey has received ample help from Wolves’ head coach Daryl Dickey in finding an agent and a place to prepare for a possible professional career.
While several teams came and watched West Georgia practices, including the Seahawks and Jaguars, according to Dawsey, he is still in need of a place to work out for other teams.
One place Dawsey is interested in working out is Valdosta State, which hosts its pro day in March. He will also work out at the regional combine in Atlanta on March 16.
“I was going to reach out to someone there (at VSU),” Dawsey said. “My strength coach knows Coach (Michael) Doscher. He knows I’m trying to get in. I want to go to their pro day.”
Although Dawsey said one of his greatest memories of his four years at West Georgia was the Wolves’ 23-20 upset win over the Blazers in 2011 at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, Dawsey said he has plenty of respect for VSU head coach David Dean and what the Blazers are all about.
“I remember my first year we played them at home, it was like a regular game,” Dawsey said of his games against VSU. “But when we played them there sophomore and junior year, and my family didn’t have to travel so far, I really wanted to beat those guys.”
While Dawsey was unable to watch the Blazers’ 35-7 win over Winston-Salem State in the national championship game in December, because he was playing in the All-America bowl game in Minnesota, Dawsey said he was rooting for VSU to win the championship.
“I rooted for them,” Dawsey said. “I was in Minnesota when they played and everyone was saying about how Winston-Salem State was going to blow them out. I just kept telling them, ‘You haven’t seen the GSC.’”
Since the conclusion of his senior season, Dawsey has played in the All-America bowl game and the Division II versus NAIA bowl game in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He has also hired an agent, who he found through Dickey, and has been training for future workouts with NFL teams.
“I just know that I can make a roster and be a good player,” Dawsey said. “I’m shooting high. I’m not shooting low.”
With the NFL’s Super Bowl being played Sunday in New Orleans, Dawsey, a longtime Baltimore Ravens fan, will be watching and rooting on the Ravens, although he knows he might not be able to root for them in the coming future.
“I have a favorite team, the Ravens, but what if I get with the Browns or the Bengals,” he said. “They are in the same division and I won’t be able to root for them anymore. They can’t be my favorite team anymore. But until then, I am going to root for them.”
Dawsey also said he watched various NFL games this year with the thought that he could compete against those caliber of players.
“I watched DBs and if they made a play and I would be like, ‘That could be me,’” Dawsey said. “I could do that.”
Moving towards a possible future in the NFL, Dawsey said he doesn’t have many contacts in the league. The only contact he really has is through West Georgia teammate David Bailey, who was once a teammate at Valdosta State with current Minnesota Viking Larry Dean.
“I’ve been talking with David Bailey and he knows Larry Dean really well,” Dawsey said. “It is like a third party talking about the NFL. But besides that, I don’t really know anyone in the NFL.”
As he trains towards the NFL, Dawsey isn’t the only former Lowndes player training for a professional career. While he hasn’t talked to him recently, Dawsey said he won’t be surprised when Greg Reid, a former standout at Florida State that was dismissed for violating team rules, makes it onto an NFL roster.
“I’ve known Greg since he was in eighth grade,” Dawsey said. “He came in ninth grade and started his first game and he is one of the hardest workers I’ve known. I’m sure he will have that drive to prove people wrong, especially about staying out of trouble.”
Regardless of what happens in the future, Dawsey said he is grateful for the opportunities that have been given to him, including the ones that were presented to him when he was in high school at Lowndes.
“First of all, it benefited me in college,” Dawsey said.
“At Lowndes, it is ran like a college program. We have to be on time and be at all summer workouts. We were held accountable. It translated well in college and will transfer to the NFL.”
Dawsey finished his college career with West Georgia with 114 total tackles and four interceptions.