The 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior-to-be played as a receiver in eight games as a freshman in 2006. He switched to linebacker in 2007. After 11 practices this spring, Dorin Dickerson is making new headway … as a tight end.
Dickerson had three receptions for 22 yards and a touchdown in Pittsburgh's first scrimmage of the spring last Saturday. On Friday, Dickerson shined again. He had a touchdown catch and appeared open each time he ran a route. He also displayed some strong blocking abilities, a key component for Pitt's tight end corps. His performance Friday caught the attention of Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt.
"I'll tell you what, the guy that made plays today is Dorin Dickerson," said Wannstedt, who pointed out Dickerson's play without prompting from reporters. "He's catching the football."
But Dickerson's main concern isn't catching the ball. He did it all of high school. He had 22 receptions and six touchdowns when lining up as a receiver his senior year at West Allegheny. His junior year, he had 25 receptions for eight scores as a wideout. Dickerson is more worried about his route running as a tight end.
"I'm used to catching the ball. That's no problem for me," Dickerson said. "I've been catching the ball since I was 3 years old. I'm working a lot on my route running. That's what I really have to improve on."
Dickerson said the coaching staff has him watching tape from NFL games.
"We watch NFL tight ends and how they run routes," Dickerson said. "That really helps. I watch a lot of that tape. Then I work on cone drills to get sharper with cuts."
After practice Friday, Dickerson stayed on the practice field with his coaches, working on breaks and routes as his teammates walked jovially off the field. It's all part of the process of getting better at tight end and preparing to join the slew of playmakers already on Pitt's loaded offensive roster.
"We have so many playmakers," Dickerson said. "LeSean [McCoy], LaRod [Stephens-Howling], Oderick [Turner], TJ Porter, Cedric [McGee]. The list just goes on and on. That's a great thing to have. It means I get to work alongside some great players and maybe defenses will forget about me."
The 20-year-old has no qualms with changing to tight end. He's used to bouncing around and adjusting. Even if he's undersized for the position, Dickerson knows he can play it well.
"I just have to keep working hard every day," Dickerson said. "It's a new position and I'm still learning it, but I'm real excited for this season and I know I'm going to handle this new job great."
It's hard to imagine any defenses forgetting about him in 2008.