Ed Dickson of Bellflower could have been swayed by the championship ways of the USC football team or influenced by the banner-festooned rafters in the McKale Center at Arizona.
But not many blue-chip athletes have been as deliberate in the recruiting process as the 6-foot-5, 225-pound two-way football standout who also dominates in the paint at center for the Buccaneer basketball team.
Dickson, a tight end and defensive end, finally ended speculation last week when he committed to play football at Oregon. He plans to sign a letter of intent Wednesday, the first day of the official signing period.
“I want to contribute to an up-and-coming program, where I can go and make a name for them,” said Dickson, who has permission from the football coaching staff to try out for the Ducks’ basketball team.
His decision surprised many, including Kevin McCarthy, his basketball coach at Bellflower, as well as national recruiting experts, who rated him as high as the No. 6 tight end in the nation.
Though university representatives can’t comment on recruits until signing day, Arizona’s coaches might also be confused by Dickson’s decision, considering the Wildcats were reportedly the front-runners to win his services.
“I’m surprised but not disappointed,” said McCarthy, who handled most of the inquiries from recruiters. “I’m just glad he made it.”
After official recruiting trips to Oregon, Arizona State and Arizona, Dickson said Oregon’s depth chart at tight end, which is expected to be topped by seniors next season, was his reason for choosing the Ducks. He said he was also impressed by the school’s academic setting and its athletic facilities.
Dickson said about 30 schools offered scholarships, including Midwest powerhouses Michigan and Oklahoma.
On the football field, Dickson possesses exceptional speed for his size. He covered the 40-yard dash in 4.60 seconds last spring at a USC camp and has a 33-inch vertical leap. He caught 20 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns last season for the 5-5 Buccaneers and had 54 tackles and 10 sacks on defense.
His springtime performance at USC, the only off-season camp he attended, persuaded the Trojans to offer Dickson a scholarship. However, he said he wasn’t prepared to make a choice so early in the recruiting process.
Although Dickson is rated as a tight end, his future could be at wide receiver or on the defensive side of the ball.
“Just get me on the field,” he said.
Dickson is considered more of a longshot to make an impact on Oregon’s basketball team, though he is one of the best players in the competitive Suburban League.
He is averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds, and two weeks ago produced career-highs of 37 points and 21 rebounds in a three-point loss to La Mirada.
Dickson led the way again Saturday night with 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Buccaneers (8-14), who knocked off Anaheim Servite, 69-66, in the Hope International. He helped clinch the victory over the Friars (12-12) with an offensive rebound basket and free throw. The three-point play ended a 12-0 run by Servite and extended Bellflower’s lead to 68-60 with 1 minute 37 seconds to play.
Dickson believes he would play small forward in college. McCarthy, however, is the first to remind him that he will need to develop better backcourt skills if he wants to contribute at the next level.
Dickson’s lack of perimeter experience didn’t keep Lute Olson, the basketball coach at Arizona, from inviting him to join his team during his visit last month.
Arizona was ardent in its recent pursuit of Dickson, but some view Olson’s offer as more of an extension of the recruiting efforts by the football team.
Still, when Dickson returned from Tucson, he reportedly told a recruiting service he was ready to commit to Arizona. Days went by, and Dickson never made the call.
“I just thought about it more and decided Oregon was a better place for me,” he said.