Chavis Dawkins knew his window to make the impression on South Carolinian’s football coaches was relatively short.
That’s life with South Carolina’s receiving group, which at this point includes three blue chip players who’ve seen significant time and an All-American candidate. So when the 6-foot-2, 218-pound Byrnes product found himself catching passes from Jake Bentley in the spring, it was something he had to try to take advantage of.
“I’m just trying to show what I can do,” Dawkins said. “When the freshmen come in in fall, coach (Bryan McClendon is) going to give them a chance, which is right. I’m just showing what I can do now, so they know.”
Those newcomers would be the latest haul McClendon has brought to Columbia: four-star Josh Vann, a top-150 player, and 6-foot-3 deep threat Tyquan Johnson out of Screven County.
Dawkins was once like them, a member of Will Muschamp’s first South Carolina recruiting class. As a freshman, he started a pair of games when the receiving corps was low on bodies, but as talent flowed in, he became the fifth or sixth receiver last season, even after Deebo Samuel was lost for the season.
This spring, Samuel missed much of practice. Bryan Edwards missed some with a shoulder injury. Sophomore Chad Terrell tore his ACL, and that’s how Dawkins came to find himself working with the first team. He even caught Jake Bentley's eye.
He’s game has come a long way since he was a desperation true freshman starter.
“It’s evolved a lot,” Dawkins said. ”Just with blocking, route running and just knowing what to do. Off the field, watching film, in the weight room and stuff.”
In two season, he’s had 10 catches for 87 yards, with two for 18 last season. His best play came on a 34-yard post against Missouri in 2016.
Last season, he ranked behind Edwards, Samuel, Shi Smith, OrTre Smith and Randrecous Davis in terms of snaps. But that doesn’t bother him too much.
“I like a challenge,” Dawkins said. “That’s why I came here. Because I wanted to be surrounded by a great group of guys.”
What kind of impression he made is yet to be seen, especially after not catching a pass in the spring game.
But he still thinks there are some things he still has to offer.
“I’m a bigger guy,” Dawkins said. “Just going against little cornerbacks, can move them around a little bit. Pretty good hands, good speed.”