Fall Football Camp Feature: Shannon Dawson
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - What a difference a year makes.
When Southern Miss offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson came to Hattiesburg prior to the 2016 campaign, he was greeted with a quarterback that had started for three years and on the verge of breaking many of the school’s offensive passing record.
Fast forward to this August and Dawson now finds himself with two quality quarterbacks that have been battling since last spring to win the starting job this fall. That competitive and friendly battle features junior Kwadra Griggs (Greenwood, Miss.), and sophomore Keon Howard (Laurel, Miss.), who was called upon to step in when then starter Nick Mullens went down with a late-season injury.
“When I got here Nick (Mullens) was the man,” said Dawson. “There wasn’t really a quarterback competition. Nick was going with the 1’s and everybody else was learning and trying to get to the level to help if something happened, which obviously it did.”
Dawson, who has also worked as an offensive coordinator at West Virginia and Kentucky at the Football Bowl Subdivision level and was a collegiate quarterback at Wingate in North Carolina, sees this healthy competition between two players that have more similarities than differences.
“Both of them are more similar than they are different,” said Dawson. “I’d hate to sit here and pick one apart, because that would say the other one was deficient in that category and that would not be fair to them.”
Still, though, with two guys going after the highest profile spot on the football field, Dawson feels strongly about giving each guy the most of his opportunity to win that job and has made sure practices have allowed both players to run with the first group.
“It is different when you have two people competing,” said Dawson about the QB battle. “There is no doubt that the dynamic and structure of practice is different. You have two guys that are trying to win the job, so I have to make sure that I give both of those guys equal time with that first group. It wouldn’t be fair if I lopsided that, so spacing out the reps they take are different when you (have one) guy that is the starter that is taking all of them.”
Whoever Dawson picks, they will have a tough first test as the Golden Eagles open with Kentucky for the second-straight year with the Wildcats coming to Hattiesburg for the Sept. 2 opener at 3 p.m.
Last season, behind Mullens, the Golden Eagles rallied from 25 points down, to win 44-35 in Lexington.
This year, it will be either Griggs or Howard turn to try to lead the Golden Eagles to a second-straight win.
Whoever it is, you know Dawson will have him ready to play.
Season tickets, flex plans, and group tickets for the 2017 Golden Eagle home season are still available and can be purchased by going online at SouthernMissTickets.com, by calling 1-800-844-TICK (8425) or by visiting the Pat Ferlise Ticket Office, weekdays, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Discounts are available for Southern Miss faculty and staff, senior citizens, military personnel, and recent Southern Miss graduates.