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Dashon "The Hawk" Goldson committed to the University of Washington on Dec. 16, 2003. He was a four-star recruit. But the Nathaniel Narbonne (Calif.) High School safety didn't have a similar presence in the classroom. In fact, he was nowhere to be seen.
"I wasn't taking it seriously," said Goldson on Buccaneers Radio Network with Ronnie Lane. "Yeah, I wasn't going. Let's put it at that."
Goldson, who signed with the Redskins on Friday, has been a student of the game throughout his career. But, his academics never reached the same level. Goldson simply said he was in the wrong crowd, but for the sake of his dream, he was out to change it.
The Washington Redskins on Friday, April 3, 2015, announced the acquisition of safety Dashon Goldson. Here's a gallery of images from his career.
His high school coach had a stack of letters – Florida State, Florida and Oklahoma to name a few. They were all addressed to Goldson. Wisconsin? Yes. USC? Of course. Then there was UCLA, San Jose State, Fresno State – the list goes on. But one question yet to be answered was whether or not he'd make the team of any of these potential suitors. The University of Washington, for one, gave him a lease on fulfilling his dream.
"They were like, 'We think you can still make it. We're going to give you a chance if you take these [classes],'" Goldson said about Washington when other colleges cut ties.
The University suggested researching junior colleges. It was a 180 in the coming months. The "city kid" travelled to Podunk, Kan., to attend Coffeyville Community College. He just about cried.
The area was all flatlands; he couldn't see people outdoors for miles. Walmart was the biggest store in the area. So, when his parents travelled with him to the college for three days to get him situated – tears still in his eyes – he made one last plea.
"We can take this stuff back, I'm about to go with you all," Goldson told them chuckling. "I was like, 'I can't do it out here.'"
He said he doesn't regret it though. He had a routine there, starting with the now furnished dorm his parents set up before they left. The sequence: dorm, football and school.
Goldson arranged tutoring sessions, attended his classes and excelled on the gridiron like he always did. He got serious and wanted to do "the right thing."
It was between USC and Washington, following the completion of his junior college career, where he was named first-team National Junior College Athletic Association All-American. It was just whether or not he wanted to stay home or not.
"I thought about going back to the crib. I was going to go back to USC," Goldson said. "[But] I'm going to Washington because it'll give me the opportunity to give me a second chance, follow my dreams."
Those were the letters that weren't torn up by his coach. He knew an assortment of them was in a trash pale in his office, but he knew Washington was it. Even so, he still wanted the letters.
He half- joked about it to his coach.
"Dang, can I at least get my letters though?" he told him. "I want to show my kids someday or something."
Goldson has since followed his dream to football's professional ranks, an achievement that he can experience with his family. Goldson is a nine-year veteran in the league and he teaches young-guns the tricks of the trade. But he knows, if he were never a student first, he may have never gotten the chance.