LAS VEGAS – Imagine the perfect quarterback.
He would have the arm strength of Matt Stafford, the athletic tools of Cam Newton, the coaching pedigree of Mark Sanchez.
Such a creation is ultimately fantasy, but Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian signal-caller Brandon Dawkins might be as close as it gets.
Entering his junior season, Dawkins made his case to be one of the most sought-after recruits in the Class of 2014 during the New Level Athletics Elite 7-on-7 Tournament at UNLV this past weekend.
Playing behind Los Angeles (Calif.) Narbonne quarterback Troy Williams on the 1925 All Stars, the elite travel team coached by Keyshawn Johnson, Dawkins showed off all the traits necessary in limited action.
At 6-foot-4 and still growing, he has the desired frame. He has the touch and velocity on his passes. And after working with Johnson and longtime and newly-retired Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell, he certainly has the mental makeup to accept criticism.
Dawkins is already hearing from a pair of schools, including the reigning BCS champions.
“The main one I’m proud about is Alabama,” he said. "They have been writing me three or four times a week. I’m looking for that scholarship soon. Coach Redell says I keep my grades up, it will be coming in soon.”
UCLA, establishing a presence in the Conjeo Valley under new head coach Jim Mora by signing Oaks Christian wide receiver Jordan Payton and cornerback Ishmael Adams and has a commitment from Westlake Village (Calif.) Westlake 2013 cornerback Dashon Hunt, is also keeping in touch.
“UCLA has been talking to me,” Dawkins said. “Jordan Payton and Ishmael are both going there. They are trying to push for me to go there, get a scholarship, so I can be with those guys.”
He also points to USC and Cal as possible destinations and the advantages of staying in state.
The interest still seems to catch Dawkins by surprise, noting, “Anywhere is pretty much a dream school as a sophomore.” Then again, considering what he has gone through in the last year alone, maybe nothing should.
Dawkins was preparing to start for the Lions when Luke Falk arrived from Utah. Falk started two games before giving way to Dawkins, leaving him to make his first start against one of Oaks Christian’s rivals, St. Bonaventure.
“It was kind of a shock,” Dawkins said. “You always want to get the first game jitters out. I was really, really nervous. It was a sold-out game, thousands of people there. I was pretty nervous going into that. After that game, we started picking it up and everybody trusted me because they saw I could handle it and take them far. They started putting trust in me and that started building me up to be more active on the field.”
Oaks Christian finished the season 11-3, going 10-2 with Dawkins as the starter before losing in the CIF-SS Northern Division finals.
Then Redell shockingly announced his retirement, the College Football Hall of Fame inductee catching everyone off guard.
“It was out of nowhere,” Dawkins said. “We were in school and we got an email (that there) was a 12:15 meeting in the cafeteria. He told us and I was really surprised because I thought he was going to finish out with the Class of 2014, me, Malik Cyphers, all these people. That’s what he had pretty much been telling us.
“It was a real big shock but we are just going to keep on moving forward.”
The Lions will still be favorites to win the Marmonte League and contenders to challenge in the loaded Pac-5 Division playoffs, so Dawkins and co. are focused on working hard even without a successor to Redell in place.
“We have a lot of talent,” Dawkins said. “We already have a lot of people there and a lot of people coming in from all over, so we got a lot of athletes. I’m expecting a big season no matter who the head coach is.”
Dawkins spends much of his time working with wide receiver Francis Owusu, his high school and 7-on-7 teammate. Owusu holds offers from across the country, which doesn’t surprise Dawkins at all.
“Francis, he is just a tremendously hard worker,” Dawkins said. “No matter what he is always practicing. We live like a couple doors down, so we can go to the park anytime we want. We always end up throwing and working out together.”
Hard work is what also defines Dawkins. There is a pride that emanates recounting the extra steps he took after Falk’s arrival to claim the starting job.
“So I had to take it to overdrive and start working extra hard, start doing extra camps and working later and lift weight, throw the ball extra as much as I can with Francis,” Dawkins said. “I kept working. He started the first game and second game, but I kept working and working during practice and ended up starting.
“I took advantage of that the best I could and had a pretty good season after.”
Work ethic is what really makes the perfect quarterback, as demonstrated by Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
That trait could push Dawkins to the same heights of greatness.
Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and covers the Pac-12 for Fox Sports/Scout.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.