Prep football | Out-of-Door Academy unveils its 'joker' in spring game

Rising freshman Dickerson key in spring game

jdill@bradenton.comMay 22, 2014 

Out-of-Door Academy's Najee Rhodes, right, tries to dodge Booker's Denzel Johnson. PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald

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SARASOTA -- Having a player in the athlete position in high school football is a luxury.

It's an especially rare commodity at the small school level, which is why Out-of-Door Academy head coach Brett Timmons has a special weapon in rising freshman Dakota Dickerson.

Dickerson's performance in the Thunder's spring game on May 16, a 31-14 defeat to visiting St. Petersburg Northside Christian, gave Timmons a good look at how bright the future is for ODA.

The playmaker scored both of the Thunder's touchdowns, one of which came on an interception return from his defensive back position.

"If we want to use a card

terminology, he's a joker," Timmons said. "He can do anything and everything for us."

Dickerson can play defensive line, linebacker and anywhere else he is needed.

"I was playing safety, and they were dropping back," Dickerson said of the interception return. "So I was dropping back with them, and the quarterback just threw it up, so I saw an opportunity to get it and took it."

What makes Dickerson stand out is his knack for finding the football. It's a quality that isn't lost on Timmons, but there is always room to improve.

"In high school ... learning that the offense and the quarterback are actors," Timmons said, "and learning how to read that stuff and be able to anticipate that stuff is only going to make him that much better."

While Dickerson can be found anywhere on the field at a given time, he said his favorite position is on the defensive line because he likes going after the quarterback and running back.

Preparing for a game, though, isn't an envious task for a player like Dickerson who could turn up at any position. But the rising freshman isn't baffled by the assignment.

"Depending on where they put me, I've just got to roll with it," Dickerson said.

As you'd expect with his role, Dickerson isn't just a football player. He also plays lacrosse.

NFL legend Jim Brown excelled at the both sports while in college at Syracuse University, and Dickerson utilizes lacrosse as a way to improve his football conditioning as well as increasing his physicality.

"It's more conditioning because you are running a lot," Dickerson said.

Dickerson weighs about 160 pounds. Timmons said he'd like him to get to about 170 to 175 pounds for the start of the 2014 season before eventually reached 190 to 200 pounds by the time his senior year rolls around to go with a little increase in height to take him to the 5-foot-11 or 6-foot range.

"He'll be a legit player," Timmons said.

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