Dawson Coleman has been a constant presence in the Beaufort Academy athletics department since he was an eighth-grader. Now he is taking his versatile skill set to the South Carolina Gamecocks.
BA announced Saturday that Coleman has accepted a preferred walk-on offer to join the Gamecocks’ football team as a tight end/wide receiver.
Coleman is best-known in the Lowcountry for his contributions on the basketball court, but he has been a three-sport star at BA, receiving all-region honors in football, basketball, and soccer and helping the Eagles claim state championships in football (2018) and soccer (2017, 2018).
“We know he is going to have a great collegiate career at USC and will forever be our Eagle,” BA athletics director Nick Field said.
Coleman leaves BA as the program’s all-time leader for all-purpose yards and points, having passed for 2,212 yards and 32 TDs and added 1,354 rushing yards and 16 scores on the ground. But his contributions didn’t always show up on the stat sheet, according to BA coach Mark Clifford, who has raved about his quarterback’s football IQ and decision-making ability since taking over the program in 2018.
“Dawson was one of my favorite quarterbacks that I have ever coached in my career,” Clifford said. “He could run, throw, and read defenses as good as any.”
Clifford recalls one time in particular when a fan approached the coach after the game to credit him for a good play call that led to a touchdown, and the veteran coach had to confess his young quarterback made the call.
“That happened often,” Clifford said. “He is a kid that you could put complete trust and confidence in, and above all, he is a leader on and off the field. There is no doubt in my mind that he will succeed at Carolina and in life. I am honored to have been his coach.”
Coleman’s other coaches at BA echoed those sentiments. He only played one season for current boys basketball coach Bobby Smith, but he made quite an impression.
“Dawson had a great work ethic and could lead by example,” Smith said. “Dawson was a winner and would not accept losing, and if the game became tight, he increased his effort and desire to win. Dawson will compete and he is the type of player that every coach dreams about, he was not only talented but showed great leadership skills. It was a great honor to coach Dawson, and I wish him the very best.”
Coleman admits he didn’t envision himself playing big-time college football, but Clifford did, and the pupil trusted his mentor’s vision.
“Two years ago I talked to coach Clifford on the phone, and he said I had the chance to be a Division I football player,” Coleman recalls. “I thought he was crazy. Fast forward to now and it turns out he was right. I’m very thankful for all of my coaches throughout my life that have made me the athlete that I am today. I am looking forward to what the future holds for me.”
Above: Quarterback Dawson Coleman and Coach Mark Clifford pose after Beaufort Academy won the 2018 SCISA 8-man football championship.