Northwestern football: Top impact newcomer for 2014-2015 season

Despite having a rather quiet season this past year, wide receiver Cameron Dickerson played a key part in Northwestern football’s brightest moment. Down 27-23 against Ohio State on national television, the redshirt sophomore caught a 12-yard touchdown pass that put the Wildcats ahead late in the fourth quarter. Of course, the Buckeyes still came out on top, and Northwestern’s season crumbled quicker than a building implosion.

It was fun while it lasted. But there’s no reason to dwell on the past.

Dickerson is poised to become a pivotal member of the team’s offense for years to come. And no, I don’t mean Cameron. I mean his younger brother, incoming freshman Garrett Dickerson.

The 4-star recruit turned down 23 other scholarships from the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Stanford, Alabama and National Champion Florida State, to play for coach Fitzgerald in Evanston. His commitment helped solidify the recruiting class of 2014 as arguably the best in program history.

So what is it about Dickerson that had premier teams throwing themselves at him? Plain and simple, he’s got premier talent.

Dickerson played both tight end and defensive end at Bergen Catholic High School. He caught 25 passes for 376 yards and recorded 32 tackles his senior year. At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Dickerson is fast for his size and can utilize his athleticism in more ways than one. His versatility means he can play effectively on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

Naturally, one may wonder why he picked Northwestern when he easily could be vying for conference and national titles in places like Tuscaloosa and Tallahassee. It all comes down to fit, and Northwestern affords him the ability to utilize his entire skill on every single play as a “superback.”

This hybrid position requires a mix of agility, power and size — traits that Dickerson possesses. As a SB, he can line up in backfield as easily as he can at TE. He can also be counted on to play receiver, lay down blocks, and even carry the ball when needed.

Dickerson will force defenses into uncomfortable situations. Defensive linemen are going to have to contend with the former DE on the way to the quarterback, while linebackers are going to have to drop into coverage when he flexes as a receiver.

The biggest knock on Dickerson, however, is that he is a freshman. Coach Fitz isn’t one to play many true freshmen, so it seems very likely Dickerson will be redshirted this upcoming season. Even then, Dan Vitale currently has a lock on the starting superback job.

Looking at the big picture, he is still one of the team’s top newcomers even if he does not step onto the field right away. After a disastrous 5-7 season that saw the Wildcats go from Big Ten title contenders to basement dwellers, signing a player of Dickerson’s caliber speaks volumes of the recruiting job the coaching staff has done.

For a player to choose a rising program over a perennial powerhouse, one has to think Northwestern is on the cusp of joining the Big Ten’s top tier. And for fans, they can only hope that one day Dickerson can score the go-ahead touchdown on Homecoming night, just like his brother did years before.

Only this time, fans hope the script plays out differently.