As I alluded to yesterday, Dalyn Dawkins is indeed leaving the Purdue football program. After rushing for 115 yards and catching 9 passes for 84 more yards this past season as a true freshman Dawkins is indeed leaving the Boilermakers and will transfer to Colorado State, as reported now by the Lafayette Journal & Courier:
Purdue freshman running back Dalyn Dawkins said late Wednesday night he plans to transfer to Colorado State.
Dawkins, though, declined to elaborate on the reasons until the transfer becomes official, likely sometime this week, he said.
When I first saw the fanpost and the now infamous Tweet from Ti Domhoff I decided to investigate the matter further. I mentioned Dalyn's Twitter profile in a Tweet of my own and it led to an e-mail from his father, Ralph, asking me to call him for more information.
The first thing Ralph asked me to do was sit on the official news until there was an announcement from Purdue that he was transferring. Dalyn received his release papers on Wednesday, but according to Ralph there had been the possibility of a transfer as far back as December.
When he was recruited, Dalyn was told that there would be a heavy emphasis on running the football and that Dalyn would have a chance to immediately compete for the starting job. Coach Hazell told the Dawkins' that his small stature was not an issue with him running between the tackles and that he was not a scatback. He wanted the heavy load of running up the middle and relished the role.
As the season wore on, the Dawkins' were displeased with both the playcalling and the choice of running backs that got the most carries. They felt that the No. 1 job was all but guaranteed to Akeem Hunt no matter what (To be fair, I did point out that most everyone felt Hunt was the guy based on his previous experience). They also felt that Brandon Cottom got more carries later in the season between the tackles just because he was a bigger guy even though Dalyn had earned the No. 2 job out of camp.
The Dawkins' had a meeting with running backs coach Jafar Williams in December and they wanted more of an opportunity for Dalyn to run up the middle and more of a commitment to running the ball. Ralph, a former star running back at Louisville himself, pointed out that many of the backs did not have the right pad level for runs up the middle. He mentioned only Keyante Green (who redshirted) and Dalyn as players that had the right pad level. Once again, Dalyn as told he would have a chance to compete for the top job in 2014.
Fast forward to spring football. Ralph said that coaches started treating Dalyn differently, as he was dropped from second to fifth on the depth chart behind guys he had previously beaten. Coaches cited that it was a lack of strength gained in the 6 a.m. workouts that caused the drop, and that it happened even before the first practice of spring. The coaches felt he needed to be stronger as a back. Ralph also said that Dalyn would be evaluated in the spring scrimmages and he was not given much opportunity there, either. Indeed, if you look at the spring stats, Dalyn had one carry for eight yards in the spring game and five carries for -3 yards in the Jersey Scrimmage.
Ralph thinks that this attitude stemmed from the original meeting with coach Williams, who allegedly was not pleased at Ralph for pointing out the point of emphasis on the pad level. I admit that I am a basketball guy first and don't know how to teach pad level for running backs, but I assume the lower, the better, and Ralph's career at Louisville that got him into the NFL gives him some authority. He feels Dalyn was treated differently after the meeting. He mentions being told to be patient and to wait until Dalyn was at least a junior for a breakout year.
I can understand some of the frustration though. Purdue was 1-11 last year and the same guys that started the year were not getting it done, so why not give someone like Dawkins more of a look? It sounds like his came down to a player wanting more carries and he felt he was not given the opportunity to get them. I don't know for sure. I was not there, and I am sure the Purdue coaches have their own side of the story. I told Ralph I only wanted to present what he told me because I don't have a side either way. I wish Dalyn well for the future because I was excited when Purdue got him as a 4-star running back from Louisville Trinity HS.
The final point that Ralph made was even more interesting. While Ralph played at Louisville he had none other than Gary Nord as his offensive coordinator and Danny Hope as his offensive line coach. He admitted that while Hope and Nord were at Purdue he was even more hesitant to have Dalyn play for the Boilers, and he liked Hazell much more. He did not say a lot about Hope, but he felt that the relentless screens and running outside set him up to be a third down back in the NFL when he was a better runner between the tackles and he feared the same for Dalyn. He said Dalyn was far better between the tackles when he got into a rhythm and he was not as good of an outside runner like Hunt. He was definitely not a fan of Nord's style of offense.
So there you have it. That is the promised "more to the story" from the source himself. I do wish Dlalyn well. I felt he could have had a much better season behind a better offensive line and that he showed some promise last year. I regret that it did not work out, but his family had nothing but positive things to say about the University and they were pleased when Dalyn chose to go there. I wish him well at Colorado State.