Thursday, November 15, 2012

Longhorn Hall of Honor: Phil Dawson

The 56th Men's Hall of Honor class is to be inducted on Friday, Nov. 9. All-American placekicker Phil Dawson left UT with 13 school records to his name.

November 15, 2012

By John Byczek, Texas Media Relations

Texas Football fans scooted to the edge of their seats on Oct. 21, 1995, as a television announcer described what would become the deciding play against the University of Virginia.

“Three seconds left and here comes Dawson and company for what will be about a 50-yarder into the wind.”

UT’s sophomore kicker Phil Dawson ran onto the field, vigorously clapping his hands. With the eyes of Texas upon him, he knew what he had to do.

After a good snap and hold, the kick was on its way.

“This one may do it!” the announcer shouted. “It is good!”

As the ball soared through the uprights, time expired and the Longhorns were victorious, 17-16.

Instead of remembering it as the game where he booted the winning kick, Dawson remembers it as something much more special.

“I think the thing – and this will surprise a lot of people – that was most rewarding to me about that kick was that it resulted in the University of Texas’ 700th all-time win,” Dawson said. “That was quite the moment to be a part of. I’m just proud to be one of the many guys that was able to help win the game on that day.”

Dawson had a very successful career as kicker for the Texas Longhorns. He was an All-American who left UT with 13 records, including all-time marks for scoring (339), field goals (59) and field goal accuracy (74.7 percent).

On Friday, Nov. 9, Dawson will be inducted into the UT Men’s Athletics Hall of Honor.

“I don’t know that it’s fully sunk in yet. My dream as a kid was simply to get the chance to play at The University of Texas,” Dawson said. “To now have something in addition to that is almost too much for me to comprehend.”

Dawson finished his tenure at Texas ranked 16th on the NCAA all-time scoring list, 12th on the NCAA all-time kick-scoring chart and 31st on the NCAA all-time field goals made list. He nailed 15 consecutive field goals in 1996-97, setting a UT record. Dawson set another UT record by making six-straight field goals from 50 or more yards from 1995 to 1997. He also connected on 64.3 percent of field goals he attempted from 40 or more yards.

“To leave my mark, whether it was a school record or anything I was able to do there, is a privilege,” he said. “At a university that afforded me so many opportunities, to think that I contributed back in some small way means a lot to me.”

After the 1998 NFL draft, Dawson signed as an undrafted free agent with the Oakland Raiders. As a free agent in 1999, he signed with the Cleveland Browns. He is now in his 14th NFL season with the Browns, is the only player left from the 1999 roster but is as accurate as ever.

Dawson says he has a very special bond with the Cleveland Browns fan base. In 2010, he passed the legendary Lou Groza for the Browns' career field-goal mark.

“Those are the things that make the countless hours spent preparing, training and dreaming about playing football all worth it,” Dawson stated. “I have tremendous respect for Mr. Groza – the kind of man he was and the player he was here. I’m just trying to live up to the standard that he set.”

Even though Dawson has had tremendous success kicking in Cleveland, he will never forget his Texas roots.

“I think one of the things I look back to enjoy the most is the fact that I got the chance to play for my home state and represent my home state,” he said. “To play for the namesake of your home state, to have your family and friends share it with you, I think that was the thing I enjoyed most. Being a part of the University of Texas football family is something that is very dear to me.”

“Just to wear that helmet, to wear those colors, to represent your home state, that was the privilege.”

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