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U.S. Steel High School Football Rewind: Julius Dawkins

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It’s understandable how Monessen wide receiver Julius Dawkins could haul in two touchdowns and a two-point conversion during the 1977 Big 10 title game and not stand out.

For one, Thomas Jefferson’s Jaguar Stadium was packed with 10,000 fans despite a 7,000-person capacity. Local outlets reported that every parking spot within three miles of the stadium was filled. Furthermore, Dawkins’ robust offensive output was a microcosm of both Monessen and Thomas Jefferson’s performances. The game featured 79 combined points and 824 total yards of offense.

Dawkins was even outperformed by his kin in the game. His cousin, quarterback Reggie Allen, led Monessen with 298 passing yards and four touchdowns en route to the Greyhounds’ 44-35 victory.

But Dawkins would have plenty other shining moments, as he rose from a well-distinguished figure in the local ranks of Mon-Valley football – earning his way into an All-Star game – to a prominently recognized star on the national college scene.

After finishing his career at Monessen, Dawkins moved on to play football at the University of Pittsburgh starting in 1979. He spent his time as a split end, though he compiled just 16 catches for 253 yards and no touchdowns over his freshman and sophomores seasons.

According to an August 1982 article by Andy Nuzzo in the Beaver County Times, Dawkins’ progress was slowed when he broke the thumb on his left hand the August before enrolling at Pitt. Though this injury occurred during his high school All-Star game, he later suffered another setback with the thumb while playing basketball; several pins were then put into his hand.

His injury, coupled with the established veteran receivers slotted ahead of him on the depth chart, resulted in the lackluster first two campaigns at Pitt.

Then Dawkins absolutely blew up the scene, putting the frustrating couple years in his past with a dominant junior year. Thanks in part to quarterback Dan Marino, who played at Pitt over the same four-year span as Dawkins, the junior split end amassed a team-leading 767 yards on 46 catches – good for 16.7 yards per catch – and 16 touchdowns.

His 16 scores were a school record at the time and led the NCAA. The four touchdowns he recorded in one game, too, set a new high at Pitt. In fact, Dawkins accomplished this latter feat twice in his junior season: once against Cincinnati and once against Army.

It was a breakout for all breakouts, resulting in All-America honors for Dawkins in that magical 1981 season.

“I knew the opportunity was right in the palms of my hands,” Dawkins told Nuzzo and the Beaver County Times in 1982. “So I figured I wouldn’t let the chance get away.”

Dawkins finished his senior season less spectacularly, albeit still impressively, with 29 catches, 437 yards and seven touchdowns. His numbers still warranted appearances in the Senior Bowl and Hula Bowl.

Throughout Dawkins’ four years, Pitt finished 11-1 from 1979-1981 and 9-3 in ’82.

His football career continued into the NFL, as the Bills drafted him in the 12th round of the 1983 draft. Dawkins played in 11 games as a 22-year-old, starting twice and compiling one touchdown and 123 yards on 11 receptions. In his second NFL season, Dawkins played in every game, catching 21 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns.

Dawkins' NFL career ended abruptly after two seasons, but he eventually found his way back to the football field a few years later in the Arena League, spending two seasons with the Pittsburgh Gladiators.

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