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Brandon Dawkins cites mental health as major reason for leaving IU football



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Graduate transfer quarterback Brandon Dawkins, left, and sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey, right, participate in drills Aug. 6 during practice at the IU football practice fields. IU Coach Tom Allen announced on Monday that Dawkins has decided to leave the program.  Matt Begala Buy Photos

Just days after IU Coach Tom Allen announced sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey would be his team's week one starter at Florida International on Sept. 1, senior quarterback Brandon Dawkins has decided to leave the program, a source within the IU football program has told the Indiana Daily Student.

During a press conference on Monday, Allen said Dawkins would be "going in a different direction with his life."

"We wish him nothing but the very best, he's a fine young man," Allen said. "I'm very excited about the two guys that we consider our top two quarterbacks and the work that they've done since they've been here throughout fall camp. They've done a tremendous job competing against each other and really doing a great job of putting themselves in position to win the confidence of their teammates and coaches."

Allen said he had some discussions with Dawkins a couple days after Ramsey was named the starter, eventually leading to Dawkins and Allen meeting again on Sunday, when Dawkins confirmed he would be leaving.

In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Dawkins gave his explanation for stepping away.

"The most important thing to me though has been the joy that the game always brought me," Dawkins said in the post. "Over the last couple year I lost touch with that joy."

Dawkins cited his mental health struggles as a major cause for his decision.

"I am not too proud to admit that I need help," he said in the post. "I am grateful for the sports psychology team at both Arizona and Indiana for helping me at some of the lowest points in my life. The game has getting me depressed and hurting my well-being."



Dawkins, a graduate transfer originally from Oxnard, California, came to IU from Arizona in April to compete for the Hoosiers' starting quarterback job alongside Ramsey and freshman Michael Penix Jr.

At Arizona, Dawkins played in 23 games, starting in 14. He threw for 2,414 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, while rushing for 1,582 yards and 20 touchdowns. 

He also averaged 68.8 rushing yards per game during his time with the Wildcats. 

In 2017, he started the first five games of the season before suffering an injury and being bumped out of the position by Khalil Tate, who is garnering Heisman consideration heading into this season.

During the short time he was in Bloomington this offseason, coaches said Dawkins showed promise as a dual-threat weapon at the position but was still working through the process of learning Allen and offensive coordinator Mike DeBord's system.

"Certainly, it has been a little bit of a period of time between the last time he took a snap in a game and in practice," IU quarterbacks Coach Nick Sheridan said Aug. 14. "He's just like everybody else. He's just trying to get better one day at a time."

IU now has five quarterbacks remaining on their roster, which includes Ramsey, Penix Jr., freshman Johnny Pabst and junior Mike Fiacable. 

During Monday's press conference Allen announced freshman Reese Taylor would be the fifth and newest member of that group.

Taylor, who has mainly been playing as a defensive back for IU this offseason, played quarterback in high school at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis.

During his senior year in 2017, Taylor threw for 3,150 yards and a program record 40 touchdowns, while also rushing for 802 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also led Ben Davis to a state title and a perfect 14-0 record and was named 2017's Indiana Mr. Football.

"We started working with him today," DeBord said. "He's already in that process, we just have to bring him along and give him a little bit each day. We can't throw everything at him. He can't have the entire offense today. That would be unrealistic, so we're just taking our time and working through it day by day to get him some reps that way."

This story will be updated. 

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