Scholar Athlete: Opelika’s James Dawson


Football means everything for Opelika senior right guard/center James Dawson. At five-years-old his parents made sure to start him on the right track.

“Student comes before athlete first for a reason,” said Dawson. “Because if you don’t have the grades you’re not going to be able to play on the field.”

Working hard in school was the key to reach his goals. Now as a senior, he has a 4.2 GPA and he scored a 28 on his ACT.

“They treat us like college kids really. I take two or three AP classes right now, and our grades are on us.”

Dawson has filled his spare time participating in National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Science National Honor Society, Latin Club, Student Government and competing with the Bulldog wrestling team, a sport he began at age 5. His dedication on and off the field finally paid off this past Friday.

“Our offensive coordinator was like, ‘Are you ready?’ and I said ‘Sir?’”

Opelika Head Coach Erik Speakman called James Dawson’s name for the first rushing touchdown of the game against Calera, and the 6’1″, 300 lbs lineman seized his opportunity and scored his first career touchdown.

“I had teammates and some of my best friends who ran out there to celebrate with me who really weren’t supposed to be out there on the field. They ran off the sidelines and it was great.”

Dawson’s weekend got even better when he announced his commitment to play football at Kennesaw State University. He plans to earn a degree that will help him become a chiropractor.

“To be able to do so much and learn time management before I go to college, and it’s not such a huge shock for me, that’s something I’m super thankful for about Opelika.”

Congratulations to James Dawson, WLTZ’s Scholar Athlete of the Week.

Categories: Alabama Sports, High School, Scholar Athlete