When Scout.com put on their series of countrywide combines across the country, their hope was to put on display some of the country's preeminent high school football talents. Many of the athletes invited are nationally known, while others would not be recognized without a name tag in their own hometown. These combines serve as a middleman between college coaching staffs and football recruitees. Just like the body armor each athlete wears, exposing every ounce of fat or bodily flaw they may have, the combine system itself is one that exposes any weakness an athlete may have or imperfection scouts may see. There is nothing they can hide from the on looking eyes. One athlete that caught many people starring at the recent Akron (May 28) combine was Dorin Dickerson of Pennsylvania.
A soon-to-be senior at West Allegheny High School, Dickerson's presence alone was enough to bring eyes in his direction. Despite seeing his chiseled 6-2 205-pound body participate in only two of the five skill drills at the showcase, the vertical leap (38) and standing broad jump (125) (both of which he finished with the top number for the day), Dickerson showed why he is considered one of the premier prospects on offense in the country.
Though I wish I could claim I managed to find a diamond in the rough, a hidden gem that I managed to uncover, college scouts and coaching staffs alike have been well-aware of him for some time now. A running back/wide receiver prospect, Dickerson has already roped in some twenty-plus scholarship offers from across the country. With 21 total offers on the table (Toledo, Virginia, Cincinnati, Michigan State, Penn State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, West Virginia, Eastern Michigan, Rutgers, Wisconsin, LSU, Pittsburgh, Boston College, North Carolina, Connecticut, Michigan, Purdue, and Akron) before he has yet to play a down of his final high school season.
In fact, Dickerson came into Akron with the enviable position of not having to go in and impress scouts in order to earn a scholarship. In fact, Dickerson's trip to the Akron combine and many of these other pre-college camps has a lot more to do with proving himself to the most important critic and scout around – himself.
"A situation like [the Scout.com combine is Akron] is a great opportunity for me to see where I stand against some of the top football players, athletes, in the country. It allows me to see some of the top players in the country and get a grasp of what it is going to be like at the next level."
If pre-draft/season hype is any measure than Dickerson is seen as matching up quite favorably. Rated as one of the top-10 prospects in the state of Pennsylvania, the versatility Dickerson has shown on the football field has made him a desirable asset to acquire. Though his comments allude to him having the attributes of a feature back ("I've got some great vision on the field and I'm good at seeing holes open up in the offense when I play running back. I've got some good size too. I just want to get in the best shape that I possibly can for next season and work on my speed and strength."-- Superprep.com), Dickerson is resigned to, but still happy with the idea of playing at a different spot at the next level.
"If there is a bunch of people at running back I can move to wide receiver," said Dickerson, who will primarily play running back this season after moving all over the field last season. "If there is a bunch of people at that position I could just move to safety or outside linebacker. I mean, it is good to have that variety of positions to play so maybe you can get on the field a little bit quicker. When I get there, I am hoping my athletic ability will just take over."
No matter where he winds up, Dickerson proved at Akron that he can handle any situation. Knowing his performance results in the jumping drills at the combine, Dickerson has proven himself as a more than capable one-on-one player. Dickerson's transition to the collegiate game should be a smooth one, especially if he winds up catching or batting-down passes. Dickerson's versatility is shown in his junior stats (junior season stats: 130 carries/1065 yds and13 TDs; 25 receptions for 517 yds and eight TDs; 48 tackles and three interceptions).
"I am going to leave it up to the coaching staff to decide where they want me to play. I just want to go in and help the program the best I can."
While taking the passive approach to what position he will play in college, letting his future coaching staff mold him into the player they wish for him to become, Dickerson is taking quite the active role in trying to decide exactly what coaching staff he will allow to make the positional choices. Having already listed the numerous schools from the Big East, Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Big XII and MAC that long for his future services, in the end all but one of those schools will be disappointed come the fall of 2006 when Dickerson is lining up along the sidelines of some other school. Right now the youngster has seemingly narrowed down his choices to five schools . . . for the moment anyhow.
"Right now I am looking at Michigan, Pitt, Penn State, Ohio State and Florida right now. I am not sure if there is a "top" school right now, but any of those five I could potentially see myself at."
However, if one was going to handicap Dickerson's decision-making process, one would have to put the hometown teams first on the list. However, Dickerson has definitely made it clear that the Wolverines are the most hot in pursuit of his versatile abilities.
"Michigan has definitely made that extra effort in recruiting me that not many other schools have. I would have to say that they have done the most in trying to bring me in next season."
However, recruiting visits and frequent phone calls will not be enough to sway Dickerson into selecting a school. For Dickerson it is all about comfort. Whether it is in terms of academics, a living situation or just having strong relationships with a school's coaching staff or support team, Dickerson wants to make sure his selection is based more upon what the school is able to do for him then what he is able do for them.
"It is all about campus and coaches. A school has to have a nice campus with good facilities, and they also have to have a great coaching staff that I feel comfortable with as a player and a person. It is a four-year commitment so I want to make sure that whatever school I select feels as much like a home-away-from home as I can find."
Even with all the great opportunities that seem to be in Dickerson's not-to-distant future, the levelheaded youth is not letting his school days pass him by as quickly as so many people across the country are trying to make them.
"The decision on where I will attend college is not going to come for quite some time, said Dickerson. "I want to approach my senior season like it is the last time I am ever going to play football. I mean, it is the last time I am ever going to get to play with my friends. I just want to go out there and win a state championship."
In the end, with all the abilities Dorin Dickerson has displayed on the football field one things is for certain: we can expect to hear great things from him in the future. However, from Dickerson's point of view those, those great things will probably entail as much team success at the high school level as it will be individual success in college.