Bryan Station teammates thrilled to see Dawson enter Hall

mfields@herald-leader.comAugust 1, 2012 

Dermontti Dawson will become the second University of Kentucky player to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. George Blanda, who was inducted in 1981, was the first.

When Dermontti Dawson is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Cornell Burbage and Mark Logan will be there to share and celebrate the moment with their former high school and college teammate.

Burbage and Logan can take partial credit for Dawson's accomplishments since they helped talk him into playing football at Bryan Station more than 30 years ago.

Steve Parker, the Defenders' coach at the time, saw Dawson in the school hallway and asked him to come out for the team. Parker enlisted Burbage and Logan, two of his standout players, to seal the deal with Dawson.

They did the job.

Burbage, Logan and Dawson were also college teammates at Kentucky, and all three made it to the NFL.

Dawson, a second-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1988, took over at center when Hall of Famer Mike Webster retired. Dawson was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, and will be only the 37th offensive lineman in the Hall of Fame.

Not bad for a guy who never played center until he got to the NFL.

Burbage, now an assistant coach at Bryan Station, said this week that when Dermontti first came out for the high school team, "We knew he was fast, we knew he was big and we knew he was strong, but we never knew he'd develop into that kind of player. When he got to UK, he just blossomed, and he kept getting better in the pros."

Logan, an assistant coach at Lexington Catholic, said Dawson "changed the game of football. Before he came along, you never blocked down with your guards and pulled your center. But he could do that. He was phenomenal."

Burbage agreed.

"He did change the game. Now every center in the NFL pretty much looks like Dermontti."

Because of their history and friendship with Dawson, Logan and Burbage feel like they're being honored in Canton, too.

"Dermontti put Bryan Station on the map, and to know I played with a guy with that kind of ability is really special. I feel like I'm going into the Hall of Fame, too."

Burbage said, "It gives me goose bumps to think this is a guy we grew up with and played with. It means as much to me as it does to him that he's going into the Hall of Fame."

Logan and Burbage noted that while Dawson was a fierce competitor on the field, he's really Mr. Nice Guy.

"He's a humble guy who's got a soft side," Logan said.

"One of the nicest dudes you'll ever meet," Burbage said.

Burbage remembers looking after Dawson on plane trips when they were being recruited and making road trips at UK.

"I'd always have to sit beside him because he was like a big ol' teddy bear," Burbage said.

Does he expect Dawson the teddy bear to break down and show his emotions during Sunday's induction ceremony?

"I don't know about him," Burbage said, "but I know I'm going to cry."

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com

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