For four years, 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end Joel Dickson lettered for California, including the two years after he was shot out in front of the Bear's Lair campus pub. His nephew, Jason Dickson, has heard the story.
"It was crazy," said the younger Dickson, who was offered by the Bears on Sunday. "He was lucky just to have his life."
Jason Dickson's own life has taken some twists and turns. He spent his senior year of high school at Vallejo (Calif.), after three years at Corona (Calif.) Santiago, and since he didn't take the SAT, he was a non-qualifier, when it came to playing football at the next level.
For the next two years, Jason Dickson took odd jobs, working in construction and bagging groceries while living with his mother, Sheila Dasaro.
"I was trying to figure out what i wanted to do with my life," he said.
The grocery bagging, Dickson said, quickly "got played out."
Dosario and Dickson spent Christmas, 2015, up in Vallejo, at his father's. It was then that Dosario had finally had enough.
"She just was mad," Dickson said. "At the time, I didn't have a job. i was just working seasonal. She says she didn't mean it, but it made me want to go back to school. Kicked me out the house on Christmas on a plane to the Bay."
So, he and his mother flew home, Dickson packed his things and drove up to stay with his father, Jason Dickson, Sr. Within a week, he was enrolled at Diablo Valley College, where he's now readying to embark on his sophomore season.
Apart from the natural work in construction, Jason Dickson said he hadn't tried to stay in shape over his two years after high school. He learned a quick lesson once he hit the football field for the first time, again, in the spring of 2016. He got winded during the first few days, "a couple of times," but soon, everything began to come back. All the while, Dickson said, he knew he could play at the next level.
Since the start of his freshman season in September, he's hauled in offers from Cal, Arizona State, Colorado, Maryland, TCU, Texas Tech, Hawaii, San Diego State and Marshall. The offer from the Bears was a little different. Offensive line coach Steve Greatwood has seen Dickson in person before, and told him while offering that he found the 6-foot-7, 310-pounder to be "very athletic," with deft footwork.
"He's a good, serious dude," Dickson said. "My family is excited. Cal is a beautiful productive school that has a lot of tradition."
On track to graduate in December, Dickson will be coming out to visit Berkeley this Friday for spring practice.