There have been plenty of testimonials of praise the past few days from Mark Richt’s former players. Here’s another one, with a twist – he now plays for another college team.
Sheldon Dawson is a senior cornerback on the football team at Tennessee-Martin, an FCS program. Prior to that he played three seasons at Georgia, starting once – the 2013 Georgia Tech game – before leaving the team midway through the next season.
Dawson was a highly-recruited athlete out of Memphis four years ago, the best recruit in the state of Tennessee, according to several outlets. When he left Georgia’s program three years later, however, he wasn’t forgotten by the team or its coaches. Mark Richt stayed in touch with Dawson, who said his former head coach prayed for him, and put him in touch with people who could help him in football and in life.
On Monday, a day after Richt was fired by Georgia after 15 years as head coach, Dawson reached out to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, asking that an open letter about his experience with Richt be printed. Here it is:
Hide, so I did behind false smiles and timid-ness. Stuck like a kid lost in darkness.
Hide and Seek … Hide and Seek …
Seek. What was I looking for? All I could see was the back of my eyelids. All I could hear was pitch black darkness. My hands touched nothingness. My nose was wrapped in the aroma of my own guilt and shame. My taste was overcome with disgust.
So what do you search for in darkness? Darkness? Myself? I couldn’t find anything. A lost child, and I was susceptible to anything. Willing to serve and do anything for anyone just to receive the satisfaction from any being. Instead of just being myself. But who was that?
That somebody was Mark Richt, who took a chance with a troubled kid from Memphis. This is an open letter to just say thank you to everybody associated with UGA for allowing me to participate at such an great institution.
And of course people have been wondering about Sheldon Dawson, Well, coach instilled in me to instill in my kids to Finish the Drill! That’s what I’ll do.