Landon Dickerson didn’t think much about it at the time.
Tennessee offered the South Caldwell (N.C.) High School offensive lineman last fall. At the moment, playing collegiately in Knoxville was less than appealing.
“At that time I hadn’t really looked at Tennessee as a school that I would go to,” Dickerson said. “I’m glad that I got that offer because now they’re one of the top schools on my list.”
Why the change of heart? Dickerson gave the Volunteers a shot, including a late February junior day visit.
“I’ve already been up there and seen a lot of the stuff but I did get to go see the locker rooms they use on a day-to-day basis. I did get to go see what Smokey’s was like and eat in there. I got to sit down with coach Jones, too. Those are all great things I got to do up there that I hadn’t really done before. I had an eating contest with offensive line assistant coach (Kevin) Koger.”
Dickerson said he came out on top in the eating competition over the first-year offensive quality control assistant but “wasn’t terribly great” at corn hole.
The visit wasn’t all bags and ribs. The blocker sat down with Tennessee coach Butch Jones.
“(Jones) told me he would love to have me up there and be a part of his program,” Dickerson said. “He asked if I had any questions. I just told him I didn’t. The coaches and hostesses, they did a great job of answering every single question I had throughout the day.”
“I think so far Tennessee has been the nicest junior day I’ve gone to,” Dickerson said. “They’ve had the most time and effort put into it.
“They’re all really the same message. The facilities and stuff, Tennessee probably has a little nicer facilities. But when you get to that level they’re all about the same.”
While in town, the junior also sat down with Tennessee offensive line coach Don Mahoney.
“I really enjoy him,” Dickerson said. “I think he’s a great guy, and he seems like a great coach.”
Pure comfort is what the 6-foot-4, 306-pounder seeks in finding a school.
"I think so far Tennessee has been the nicest junior day I’ve gone to. They’ve had the most time and effort put into it."
“I think just where I feel like I fit in best,” Dickerson said. “I guess it’s just going to be a feel of how I like it.
“Position-wise it doesn’t really matter to me. Playing time, I mean if I go in and play right away that’s great. If I get a redshirt, I get to work on my education a little bit. I’m fine with that too. I’m open to a lot of stuff.”
A verbal declaration doesn’t appear to be right around the corner.
“I’m not really too specific on that,” the Scout three-star prospect said. “It’ll probably be during football season sometime next year.”
A trio of schools have the inside track.
“I’m wide open to anyone right now but my three that kind of stand out are Tennessee, Virginia Tech and South Carolina. Those are the schools that when I’ve gone to them, I’ve enjoyed them the most. I like the coaching staffs and the facilities the most.”
Dickerson, who doesn’t model his game after anyone, plays a number of roles for the Spartans, lining up “everywhere” tight end to guard to fullback to tailback. The blocker says there’s a chance he could be handed the football during his senior campaign.
“We didn’t really incorporate that many plays this year for it,” he said of carrying the football, “but I think next year there will definitely be some more plays for me to get the ball.
“I think it will probably be short-yardage situations unless I just turn into a full-time fullback, anything is really possible. As a guard here, we’re probably 99.5-percent run here. We run the Wing-T. Our guards pull every single play just about. So, I’m basically a fullback that puts their hand down.”
That combination of athleticism and versatility may make for a great problem for Tennessee coaches should they sign Dickerson.
“I’m not sure where they want me,” he said. “I don’t really mind playing anywhere. I mean I’m not really a fan of center. Just anywhere that I can be active, just running somewhere doing something rather than standing around.”
In 2014, South Caldwell fell to Mount Tabor 47-0 in the opening round of the NCHSAA Class 4A state playoffs.
Dickerson said he doesn’t have any concrete plans for further college visits. He is contemplating “throwing for track” this spring in Hudson.