Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsColumn

Oaks Christian can't help but smile along with QB Brandon Dawkins

Hawaii native Brandon Dawkins' laid-back island attitude belies a maturity that has helped lead the Lions to a 4-0 record so far.

September 20, 2012|Eric Sondheimer

If someone discovers quarterback Brandon Dawkins not smiling, please take a photo to prove it. Whether in the huddle, on the sideline or in the locker room, Dawkins is the coolest, most laid-back teenager not named Justin Bieber.

"When I'm smiling and I'm happy, I'm usually playing at my best," he said.

At the end of practice last week, the 16-year-old from Westlake Village Oaks Christian was resting on a knee, bobbing his head back and forth to the beat of "Kissin' Your Cares Goodbye" blasting from the public address system.

Nothing prevents him from having fun even when teammates are banging heads in front of him.

"You got to enjoy the sport or you can be too consumed by the game," he said.

Dawkins is one of the best junior quarterbacks in California. As a sophomore, he passed for 2,844 yards and 33 touchdowns while completing 66% of his passes. And he really was just learning on the job.

This season, he actually understands what coverage two means (two safeties dropping deep). He's 6 feet 4, weighs 205 pounds, has scholarship offers from Notre Dame and Utah and projects as someone who's going to be able to play football for as long as his body lets him.

"He's got a chance to be a pretty special player," said offensive coordinator Casey Clausen, a former Tennessee quarterback.

In four games for the unbeaten Lions (4-0), he has passed for 975 yards and nine touchdowns while completing 69% of his passes. He has five interceptions.

There were times last season I questioned Dawkins' maturity, because I'd see him smiling on the sideline when the situation called for someone growling and being intense. I know now I was mistaken. It's just the way Dawkins handles pressure. He's focused and intense in his own way, and a lot has to do with being born and raised in Hawaii until he was 8.

"It's the Hawaii style," he said. "Everyone is always smiling. You can't frown on the islands."

He said his older brother "was putting me in the water before I knew how to walk."

Dawkins learned to surf, and being able to ride a wave only adds to his coolness factor.

"It's my getaway place," he said. "I can put the whole world aside."

His coaches don't get too concerned when they see Dawkins smiling because they haven't forgotten he just turned 16.

"He's got plenty of serious years ahead," Coach Jeff Woodruff said.

For those who might not take Dawkins seriously, just remember how he performed in his first varsity start last season. Oaks Christian's starting quarterback, Luke Falk, had gone home to Salt Lake City, leaving Dawkins the only choice to face Ventura St. Bonaventure in the third game of the season.

Dawkins was so pumped up he could have floated in. He lives in Oxnard and knew most of the St. Bonaventure players. He'd just turned 15.

"I was really nervous, unbelievably nervous," he said.

All he did was complete 15 of 18 passes for 177 yards and one touchdown in a 34-24 victory.

"I love playing those guys," he said. "It's bragging rights for the rest of the year."

He gets to face Crenshaw at home on Friday night, and there could be another meeting with St. Bonaventure later this season.

At the end of practice, Dawkins sprinted off toward the locker room and leaped over a hurdle along the way.

Yes, this is a teenager enjoying life to its fullest.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

Twitter.com/LATSondheimer

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|