When All-CIF linebacker Ted Dawson Jr. steps on the Rose Bowl grass Saturday for the 36th annual Shrine All-Star Football Classic, he will have proved his father wrong.
Dawson's dad, Ted Dawson Sr., who left the KABC sports desk this week to make room for new anchor Jim Hill, told his son before the 1986 season that he would not make the Shrine team. The elder Dawson figured an unacclaimed kid from Wyoming would get lost in the talent-laden trenches of Southern California prep football.
But Dawson, who transferred from Wyoming to St. Francis High last year to play football for a high-exposure program, thought different.
Included among his goals: CIF honors, a 4.6-second 40-yard sprint, making the Shrine team and playing his best.
The last made the first possible last season, despite the elder Dawson's snickering at his son's intention to make All-CIF, and although his 40 remains at 4.8, Dawson will most likely start at outside linebacker for the South in the Rose Bowl. He'll also attend Brigham Young next season on a full four-year scholarship.
"Most guys on the Shrine team were known as stars in their junior year," Dawson said, "but my dad said it was virtually impossible for me to make it because I was a no-name.
"That made me work hard, and when I made it, it shocked both of us."
The Dawsons actually had little reason to be surprised. In addition to all-league first team and All-CIF, Dawson was named All-Big 5 Conference and All-La Canada/Glendale Area in 1986. The 6-2, 220-pound linebacker recorded 50 unassisted tackles and caught the attention of at least eight Division I schools, including USC, UCLA and Michigan.
Being selected for the Shrine team is simply Dawson's final high school achievement. Another goal is making the traveling team at BYU in his first year.
With linebacker vacancies, the Cougars may need Dawson at inside linebacker right away. Shrine South defensive coach Armondo Gonzalez will need him for pass coverage since only four players will be allowed to rush the passer.
And Dawson Sr. has needed his son during the recent personnel shake-up at KABC.
Dawson had turned to his father for encouragement when he started playing for St. Francis because he wondered whether his dad's notoriety would color his own accomplishments.
Last week, it was the elder Dawson who needed support.
"When the whole thing happened, I was down," he said of being told he could remain at KABC as a reporter and then being told he was out. "Ted Jr. and I went over the whole thing and he repeated to me almost exactly what I told him last year about staying focused on your priorities."
Dawson's priority last season was to prove himself. His self-doubts scared him, but his father's support eased his fears.
"I've always had that doubt in myself that I can't do it unless my dad was there," he said.
"There were times when I just wanted to blend into the crowd and be a normal person and achieve on my own."
Now the achievements have come and Dawson frowns at suggestions of his father as a negative influence.
"For the bad things the name has brought me, there are 100 more good things," he said. "The opportunities my dad has given me have been the greatest."
Those opportunities included visiting locker rooms of pro football teams, where Dawson the sportscaster introduced Dawson the linebacker to several pro players, such as Raiders Rod Martin and Todd Christensen, with whom Ted Jr. maintains strong friendships.
The younger Dawson met Christensen, a 6-3 tight end, five years ago, began working out with him and has since visited Raider training camp every summer where the two would run patterns while Martin reviewed defensive coverages with Dawson.
Dawson said he knows many of the Raiders and Rams. His father made such friendships possible. His father also made it possible for him to play Division I football by convincing to leave Wyoming, where he lived with his mother.
In the next four years, however, Dawson will be on his own.
At first, the elder Dawson, a Utah University graduate, questioned the quality of BYU's education, and he continues to question the national status of the football program, as he did when BYU won the national championship three years ago. But he is happy his son is headed for Provo, Ut.
"When I was a student at Utah," he said, "we knew BYU as a place to party, not for high academic standards. But now I'm thrilled Ted Jr. is going to BYU. The (coaching staff) showed the most interest in him as a person and it's a wonderful place."
It's also a place with many married students--and many children--but marriage has not crossed Dawson's mind.
"I'm not gonna marry at l least until I get out of school and base myself up financially," he said.
Dawson, who plans to go into the commercial real estate field after graduation, may not subscribe to the notion of an early marriage, but he looks forward to living with other Mormons, whose closeness and caring attitude are, he said, what make the religion special.