Dawkins "All In" in his message

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – For Clemson All-American and All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins, who currently plays for the Denver Broncos, was back in Clemson Saturday afternoon, and it turns out that the message he gave to the current Clemson football team is much like the messenger that delivered it.

Dawkins has made a career with a hard-hitting, no-nonsense style, a style that has earned him eight Pro Bowl selections, and that same style was on hand when he addressed the Tigers on the floor of Death Valley following Saturday’s Spring Game.

“It should hurt you to give up a point to the other team,” was part of Dawkins’ message to the assembled team, a message that had several subtle references to the loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship. “It should hurt you to lose. Remember that last game you lost? Was it because they worked harder than you did? Don’t ever let that happen.”

Dawkins said he was invited to speak to the team by head coach Dabo Swinney, and he jumped at the opportunity to be “All In” back in Clemson.

“I wanted to come back anyway,” Dawkins said. “Just to come back and catch up with my old teammates, and be with my man Patrick Sapp, who is doing a great job here. I wanted to come back and just be around Clemson. I love it.”

The “All In” message that Swinney preaches to his team is something that Dawkins said resonates in his own life and career, and he wanted to impart that to the Clemson players.

“It’s just some of things I try to do when I play – it’s all in,” Dawkins said. “I feel that. And when he [Swinney] addressed this team for the first time, when he did that and told them to be All In, that’s something I’ve been living for a while. I am that way – I want to be All In, All Out, All Day.

“That is how I approach it, and I asked them ‘What does that mean to you?’ When you can define that for yourself, then you come back to Clemson and put it all together and we can win this thing this year. At the end of the day, you want to reach a couple of them. If you can reach a couple, then it starts to spread to other guys, and you start building something, and something starts to happen.”

Dawkins was a three-year starter for Clemson, and finished his stellar career with 247 tackles and 11 interceptions. He was a 2nd team All-American selection as a senior when his team-high six interceptions tied him for the conference lead. He was named the first-team strong safety on Clemson's all-centennial team in 1995 and was selected to their Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009, and Swinney said he was delighted to have a player of Dawkins’ caliber on hand to speak to the club.

“Brian Dawkins gave a great talk to our team after the game,” Swinney said. “He talked about what it meant to be All In with a program and the importance of working hard in the off season.”

Dawkins said he feels the Tigers are on the verge of something special, and felt honored to share some of his story.

“I hope something I said today can help them push through something that comes up,” Dawkins said. “I am a passionate cat, and whatever I can do to pass that along to a younger player is a blessing for me. I love what I do, and I have been blessed with the talent to do something that I love. That is what I am here for, and I wanted to let them know I am here for them.”

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