The Lexington native graduated from Bryan Station High School and was all-state athlete in both track & field athlete (discuss and shot put) and football. Dermontti Dawson decided to stay home and accepted a scholarship from the University of Kentucky.
Dawson played center and guard at Kentucky from 1984-87 under Coach Jerry Claiborne. In his first year at Kentucky, Dawson was a member of the 1984 Kentucky squad that went 9-3, including a win over Wisconsin in the Hall of Fame Bowl. Dawson was selected to the All-Southeastern Conference second team as a senior. During his time as a Wildcat, Dawson blocked for three top rushers in Kentucky history- Mark Higgs, George Adams and Marc Logan. Dawson graduated from the College of Education at the University of Kentucky in 1987.
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Dawson in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft. Dawson played his entire 13 seasons in the NFL for the Steelers (1988-2000). Dawson became the starting center in 1989 and played in 170 consecutive games before an injury sidelined him in 1999, which ranks second in Steelers history. During his career as a Steeler, Pittsburgh led the NFL in rushing twice in 1994 and 1997.
Dawson played in seven consecutive Pro Bowls (1993-99) and was named first-team All-Pro for six straight years (1993-98). Dawson was named Co-AFC Offensive Lineman of Year by the NFL Players Association in 1993 and NFL Alumni Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1996. Dawson was also named to the NFL’s Team of the Decade for the 1990s. Dawson started in three AFC Championship games and in Super Bowl XXX against the Dallas Cowboys in 1996. Dawson retired as a Pittsburgh Steeler in 2000.
Following his retirement, Dawson returned to Lexington and served on the UK Board of Trustees and the UK Athletics Board. Dawson has also put on multiple football camps for youths at Robert Morris University.
Dawson became the 45th player or coach to have his jersey retired at Kentucky. The number 57 jersey was retired on Sept. 1 in the 2001 season opening game against Louisville.
Dawson was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012 in a class that included Curtis Martin, Cortez Kennedy, Chris Doleman, Willie Roaf and Jack Butler. Dawson chose his former high school football coach , Steve Parker, to serve as his presenter at his induction. Dawson became the third Hall of Famer born in Kentucky, and second from the University of Kentucky.
“It’s usually receivers, quarterbacks, all the skill guys that get the most visibility. The only time you hear our names is if we get a holding call. You really have to do something special, and hopefully I did something special enough to deserve this honor.”
Dawson also tried a little bit of coaching. Dawson served as an intern in the Steelers scouting departing in 2009 and as a intern coach with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010. The Hall of Famer currently resides in San Diego working as the Executive VP Sales of Prime Time West, Inc., a promotional products company.
Steelers.com posted an article last week on Dawson and how he redefined the center position. It is definitely a must read.