After switching from offense to strong-side linebacker this past spring, Dorin Dickerson was expected to finally making an impact this season. However, after splitting time with redshirt junior Adam Gunn early in the year, Dickerson basically faded from the base defense.
Still, the Panthers aren't ready to give up on Dickerson as a linebacker, and Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt did not believe he wanted to transfer.
Dorin and I are going to sit down and talk more about his future next week,'' Wannstedt said. "We already talked (Wednesday), but we'll talk more. I wouldn't want to comment on anything else yet, but we're going to find the best place where he can help the team and be successful.
"And he wants the same thing. He's a great kid. He hasn't asked for a transfer. A redshirt is always a possibility, but it depends on where he's at (what position) and what kind of impact he can make.''
Dickerson primarily played on special teams in the waning games this season, including the return game in an attempt to exploit his tremendous athleticism, and he made just 15 total tackles this season. However, his best game was a six-tackle performance at Michigan State in Game 3, and he had not stops in the regular-season finale at West Virginia.
"Dorin got better at linebacker throughout the year, but the toughest thing for Dorin is that he kind of got thrown into the fire the past two years and basically in some unfair situations,'' Wannstedt said. "The first year, he was hurt and didn't even practice during training camp, but everybody expected him to be the answer when the season started.
"But he was playing a different position in the offense. And this past year, he's playing linebacker, and he never played there before. What we probably should've done was move him to linebacker (in the spring) and redshirt him and give him a year to practice and learn the fundamentals.''
Dickerson, the Pennsylvania Big School player of the year as a senior at West Allegheny High School in Imperial, Pa., was a tremendous offensive talent at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds. However, he suffered an ankle injury early in training camp, had difficulty breaking into the rotation as a wideout and running back.
Dickerson added 20 pounds of muscle in the offseason and was switched to outside linebacker this past spring. With three freshman linebackers redshirting this year and everyone else returning except fifth-year senior Jemeel Brady, Dickerson will have another difficult time fitting in.
"I'm really excited to see (linebackers) Tristan Roberts, Max Gruder and Brandon Lindsey this spring,'' Wannstedt said. "I think (cornerbacks) Buddy Jackson and Sherod Murdock have a chance to make an impact.
"(Running backs) Greg Williams and Shariff Harris, either one could help at linebacker if we need them, but they're running backs now. We haven't talked about them moving, but it's always a possibility.''
All the aforementioned players were redshirted as freshmen in the fall.
Fields On Track
Elijah Fields, who was suspended this past season for violating team rules, is expected to compete for a starting safety spot this spring.
"Elijah Fields has done everything we've asked of him to this point, but it's a week-to-week thing for him,'' Wannstedt said. "He's on a short leash, but he's doing great. And I'm very encouraged. His weight's down. He's doing good in school and going to class, so I'm very encouraged by Elijah. But we'll see if that continues.''
Fields, who played sparingly as a freshman in 2006, will be a redshirt sophomore next season.
• Wideout Marcel Pestano has graduated and was not asked to return for his fifth season. He's the only player so far that won't be back, but that could change in the next few weeks.
• Of the injured players, Jason Pinkston (shoulder) will be limited in the spring, while tight end Nate Byham (knee) will be out.
• WR Derek Kinder (knee), DT Gus Mustakas (knee), DE Doug Fulmer (knee), OL Chris Jacobson (knee) and Dan Matha (shoulders), and TB Kevin Collier (wrist) should all be at full strength.
• OTs Jeff Otah and Mike McGlynn have been selected to play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, while DE Joe Clermond and CB Kennard Cox were picked for the Hula Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Dickerson Must Find A Home
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