Jomon Dotson said he was on a “mission” when he decided to transfer after his junior season of football at the University of Washington last year.
He was looking for a fresh start in the game, a new opportunity, a chance to get more playing time and flash the skills that he is so very proud of – the strength and speed, the experience and instincts, the field vision and awareness to play in run and pass coverage as a cornerback.
He wanted his last year of college football to be about making plays – to be a run stopper and a key defender against the pass.
He was looking to play closer to his home in American Canyon, so that family and friends could see him more often.
“I wanted more opportunities,” Dotson said Tuesday. “I just wanted to play more and I wanted to go out strong. I just wanted an opportunity to go somewhere else and play.”
Dotson got that opportunity from the University of Nevada in Reno, a member of the Mountain West Conference. He joined the Wolf Pack in July as a graduate transfer. He is pursuing a master’s in justice management, with an emphasis in law enforcement.
He worked very hard to learn a new system, a new program and a new conference, and to become a starter.
“It was just a risk and a chance that I took,” Dotson said. “Everything ended up working out. I’m thankful that Nevada saw something in me and gave me the opportunity to go there and help them win.
“I knew it was my last year and I knew I needed to go all out. I just brought my ability and everything that I could. I am very blessed and very honored that I got a chance to play. I’m very happy that it did work out the way it did. I am very proud. I don’t have any regrets.
“The coaches made me feel comfortable. I enjoy my coaches. I enjoy my teammates. I will miss them.”
It was a big season for Dotson. He started each of Nevada’s 13 games and helped the Wolf Pack (8-5 overall) to a second-place finish in the West Division of the Mountain West and to a bowl game.
Dotson, a 2014 graduate of American Canyon High School, tied for the team lead with seven total tackles for Nevada in a 16-13 win on Dec. 29 over Arkansas State in the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl.
The game was played at Arizona Stadium in Tucson.
Dotson had six solo tackles and one assisted stop. He intercepted a pass in the third quarter and also had two passes broken up.
It was Dotson’s second interception of the season.
“I appreciate going out there and helping those guys, contributing to the win that we just got this past Saturday,” said Dotson.
He also played on special teams – punt and kick coverage and return teams. He had two kickoff returns for 38 yards, with a long return of 23 yards.
For the season, he was third on the defense with 75 total tackles, including 63 solo stops. He broke up six passes, forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles.
He received the Defensive Newcomer of the Year award at the team’s banquet, which was held at the Eldorado Resort in November.
“I felt like I impacted the team and helped the team in a lot of aspects, as far as just having that team bond, team chemistry, getting together with guys and coaches,” said Dotson. “I felt comfortable going out there from the start, because I knew what I could do and I knew what I could provide to help the team.”
The switch in schools, leaving Washington and going to Nevada, was a tough transition, said Dotson.
“It was hard, but my teammates brought me in. They were excited for me to come and help the team,” he said. “I saw an opportunity that was open, to go and help a team get some wins. That’s how I went to Nevada.
“It was a really hard decision, being at a school for four years, and then going to a different school. But I don’t regret anything. I think it all worked out. With my situation, I just wanted a better opportunity to go somewhere else and play and make a losing team into a winning team. I feel like I contributed with special teams and just my tenacity, just for the ball, for the sport.”
The 6-foot, 185-pound Dotson was a consistent contributor for Nevada throughout the season. He stood out in particular in games against:
* Oregon State: 11 total tackles (all solo) and intercepted a pass.
* Boise State: 10 total tackles and a forced fumble.
* Hawaii: nine total tackles, all solo stops, and broke up a pass.
* UNLV: eight total tackles, six solo stops.
* Air Force: six total tackles, five solo stops.
* San Diego State: six total tackles, all solo stops, a forced fumble, broke up two passes, and recovered a fumble.
* Toledo: five total tackles and a fumble recovery.
* San Jose State: four total tackles, two solo stops.
* Colorado State: four total tackles, three solo stops and broke up a pass.
* Fresno State: three total tackles.
“I appreciate my teammates and my coaches,” said Dotson. “I thank my coaches and my teammates for bringing me in. I’m going to miss them. I’m going to miss the coaches for giving me the opportunity.
“I feel like I’ve sacrificed a lot and have worked pretty hard. Even just making that transition over from a different school. That’s a pretty tough thing to do. I feel as though I ended up succeeding and making the team better.
“I was on a mission, and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me or get in my way. It was a great experience.”
Dotson redshirted in 2014, his true freshman season at Washington.
He played in six games during the 2015 season for the Huskies. He had 27 yards rushing on 10 carries against Oregon State and caught two passes for 19 yards in the Heart of Dallas Bowl game against Southern Miss.
Dotson made two starts at tailback and played in all 14 games for Washington during the 2016 season. One of his biggest games was against Oregon, as he rushed for 61 yards on 12 carries and scored a touchdown and caught two passes for 52 yards with a TD. He ran for 48 yards on eight carries against Idaho. He had 30 yards rushing on seven attempts against Stanford and ran for 35 yards on eight carries against Cal.
Dotson switched positions, moving to defense in the spring of 2017.
He played in each of the 13 games in 2017 for the Huskies. He was credited with 13 total tackles (11 unassisted stops, two solo stops) and returned an interception 68 yards for a touchdown against Montana.
He was named as the Washington coaches’ special teams player of the game for his performance against UCLA. He had three tackles each against Fresno State, Washington State and Penn State.
He graduated last June from Washington with a degree in sociology.
“I’m happy that I got my degree from the University of Washington,” said Dotson, 23.
“I’m very proud to see what he has accomplished,” said Joe Dotson, Jomon’s father. “He stayed the course. To watch the maturity level, from when he left as a freshman, to see him graduate, to becoming a young man, that’s been a beautiful thing. He’s given the family a lot to look back on and be pleased.”
The next mission: to play in the NFL
Dotson plans to train – a combination of strength and speed work – in order to give himself the best possible chance to try and get to the NFL. He plans to take part in Nevada’s Pro Day.
“I’m on a mission, and my goal is to make it to the NFL. That’s been my dream ever since I was a kid,” he said. “I do want to have the opportunity to play in the NFL. I’m going to give that a shot.
“I want to keep learning and want to keep getting better each and every day. Whatever it takes that I have to do, to get it done, I’m going to do it. I feel like I do have what it takes to play at the next level.”
Said Joe Dotson, who played football at Kennedy High-Richmond and Contra Costa College-San Pablo: “Jomon is a student of the game. He has done a marvelous job. All anyone can ever ask for is an opportunity. He’s very mature in what he’s doing – that’s what I like, the mental component of it. It shows that he has been a student, and that he has put in the work in the classroom.”
American Canyon High years
Dotson was named as the Player of the Year on the Napa Valley Register’s 2013 All-Napa County team.
At American Canyon High, Dotson set school records for career rushing yards (4,976), rushing touchdowns (60), all-purpose yards (5,499) and points scored (374).
He was named as the Solano County Athletic Conference Back of the Year, first-team All-SCAC and second-team All-CIF Sac-Joaquin Section as a senior for the Wolves in 2013.
He rushed for 2,004 yards on 189 carries and scored 26 touchdowns his senior season. He also caught 12 passes for 140 yards and two TDs. He was a defensive standout, intercepting seven passes.