Curtis Dawson, a defensive tackle on the University of Alabama’s 2004 football team and a noted prep player at Hoover High School, died in Hoover on Wednesday at the age of 33. The Dawson family did not immediately disclose a cause of death.

Dawson played a total of 19 snaps in three games as a true freshman in 2004 under head coach Mike Shula. He was expected to play a prominent role in 2005, but was dismissed due to a “violation of team rules” in June 2005.

Former Hoover head coach Rush Propst, now the head coach at Colquitt County High School in Moultrie, Ga., remembered Dawson on Friday as “one of the best players I ever coached.”

“Curtis was a great football player,” Propst said. “Of the nine years I was there (at Hoover), I can’t think of a kid more impactful on the defensive side of the ball. He played as a freshman on our (2000) state championship team, then started for three years after that. He was a tremendous player on those teams. He won the (2003) state semifinal against Vestavia Hills for us, one of the great games in Alabama history, the (31-24) double overtime game. Vestavia had a 3rd and goal at the 1-yard line and he made two huge plays and we held them. The 4th and 1 stop, if you had a Daniel Moore painting of Hoover football, that would be the play.

“He was a great linebacker. If you put him on a line, he might not have had the fastest 40-time, but he was 6-1 and 250 and running guys down all over the field.”

At Alabama, he grew to 275 pounds and became a defensive end.

“I remember going to an Alabama spring practice in 2004,” Propst said. “They had moved him to the (defensive line) and he was in a pass (protection) drill with the second defense. He went against every single starting offensive lineman at Alabama and not one of them blocked him. He was destined for greatness as a defensive end at 275 or 280.

I was talking to Josh Chapman (a former Hoover star who played at Alabama and in the NFL) yesterday. He said ‘Coach, I don’t ever remember anyone more dominant than Curtis.’ He was team captain, quarterback of the defense. He was pleasant to be around.  I’ve thought about the Top 10 players I coached at Hoover and he’d be in the upper half of that number. And I coached some good players.’

Propst said Dawson struggled to find a calling away from football.

“Athletes are so competitive,” Propst said. “On the field, in competition, they are dominant. Sometimes they get off the field and they struggle with that, with being the Average Joe. But he was a good person at heart. He has a great family that I still love, and I love Curtis Dawson.”

Arrangements for Dawson’s funeral are pending.

11-22-02- Northport, AL– County’s LeRon McClain (33) gets gang tackled by Hoover defenders Curtis Dawson (10) and Morgan Duncan (11) for a short gain in the 3rd quarter of their game at County in Northport Friday night. Hoover defeated County 31-0. (Tuscaloosa News/Jason Getz)