|Position:||Assistant Coach - Defensive Line|
Mike Dawson followed Scott Frost from Central Florida to Nebraska after spending the past two seasons on Frost’s UCF staff. Dawson boasts 19 years of coaching experience, including three seasons in the National Football League.
Dawson helped Frost and defensive coordinator Erik Chinander turn around the UCF defense as the Knights’ defensive line coach in 2016 and 2017. Dawson helped the Knights improve by more than 12 points per game in scoring defense, and the defense helped out the offense by forcing 58 turnovers and scoring nine defensive touchdowns in two seasons. UCF ranked third nationally in turnovers forced in Dawson’s two seasons at the school, and his defensive line played a key role in that area by helping the Knights recover 23 fumbles the past two seasons.
In 2017, Dawson’s defensive line helped UCF post the first perfect season in program history and in the history of the American Athletic Conference when Central Florida finished 13-0 as the nation's only undefeated team. The Knights ranked third in the league in scoring defense and fourth in rushing defense. Two of his three starting defensive linemen earned all-conference accolades, including Jamiyus Pittman, a member of the Outland Trophy watch list who was an All-AAC performer for the second straight season.
In Dawson’s first season at UCF in 2016, the Knights ranked in the top 10 nationally in four defensive categories and in the top 25 in nine categories. Dawson’s defensive line played a major role in UCF ranking second nationally in red zone defense, sixth in third-down defense, ninth in tackles for loss, 17th in sacks, 18th in turnovers forced and 24th in fumbles recovered. The defense was the key to Central Florida leading the nation with a six-win improvement from the 2015 to 2016 season.
Dawson was hired by Frost at UCF after spending three seasons on Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles staff. Dawson served as a defensive quality control coach in 2013, when the Eagles won the NFC East and ranked third in the NFL with 31 takeaways and were third in the league for most games holding their opponent to three touchdowns or less. He spent the next two seasons as an assistant defensive line coach with the Eagles. In 2014, Dawson helped Philadelphia rank second in the NFL in sacks (49) and fifth in opponent yards per carry (3.7).
In 2012, Dawson was out of coaching for the only time in the past 20 years as he served as the athletic director at North Middlesex High School in Massachusetts, his alma mater. Before accepting that position, Dawson was Boston College’s special teams coordinator for three seasons from 2009 to 2011. In his first year, kicker Steve Aponavicius set school records for career points, extra points made and field-goal percentage. In his second season with the Eagles, kicker Nate Freese was 22-of-25 on field goals, and he went on to break Aponavicius’ career scoring record. Dawson also coached punter Ryan Quigley, who has spent the last five seasons as a starting punter in the National Football League.
In his first full-time job at the FBS level, Dawson coached the Akron linebackers for three seasons from 2006 to 2008. With the Zips he tutored all-conference linebacker Brion Stokes, who ended his career with 38.5 tackles for loss, the second-most in school history.
Dawson came to Akron following a six-year stint at New Hampshire from 2000 to 2005. He held three different positions with the Wildcats, coaching the linebackers in 2000 and 2002-03, the offensive line in 2001 and serving as defensive coordinator in 2004 and 2005. In his two seasons leading the defense, New Hampshire posted a 21-5 record and reached the 2005 FCS quarterfinals, when the Wildcats led the country with 45 takeaways.
Originally from Pepperell, Mass., Dawson started his coaching career as the defensive line coach in the spring of 1998 for UMass-Lowell before he joined Maine as a defensive assistant for the 1998 season. After spending two seasons with the Bears, Dawson moved on to Pittsburgh as a graduate assistant in 1999.
Dawson was a three-year starter at linebacker and defensive end from 1994 to 1996 at UMass-Amherst. He earned his degree in sports management from UMass-Amherst in 1997. He and his wife Jodi have one son, Frankie.
2018: Nebraska, Assistant Coach (Defensive Line)
2016-17: Central Florida, Assistant Coach (Defensive Line)
2014-15: Philadelphia Eagles, Assistant Coach (Assistant Defensive Line)
2013: Philadelphia Eagles, Defensive Quality Control
2009-11: Boston College, Assistant Coach (Special Teams)
2006-08: Akron, Assistant Coach (Linebackers)
2004-05: New Hampshire, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
2002-03: New Hampshire, Assistant Coach (Linebackers)
2001: New Hampshire, Assistant Coach (Offensive Line)
2000: New Hampshire, Assistant Coach (Linebackers)
1999: Pittsburgh, Graduate Assistant
1998: Maine, Defensive Assistant
1998 (Spring): UMass-Lowell, Assistant Coach (Defensive Line)