''The last two games he has shown up and played the way we expect a defensive tackle to play,'' Vol defensive coordinator John Chavis said. ''That's a credit to him and Coach (Dan) Brooks.''
This sudden burst of progress has coincided with the insertion of J.T. Mapu into the tackle slot opposite Dickerson. Mapu also had a big game vs. Bama (9 tackles).
''Having Mapu in there with him the last two weeks has helped them both,'' Chavis said. ''That gives us two tackles in there that have a chance to make plays (rather than just plug gaps). They've made plays the last couple of weeks.''
Dickerson has been so productive in recent weeks that UT's remaining opponents probably will begin double-teaming him.
''With the plays he's made the last couple of weeks,'' Chavis said, ''I would think he's going to see more and more of that.''
As good as he has been lately, Dickerson's development must continue if Tennessee is to share the SEC East title and earn a quality bowl bid.
''I've been excited to watch him grow,'' Chavis said. ''I don't think he's where he can be, though. Potentially, he could be an outstanding defensive lineman. He hasn't reached that level yet, but he's got the potential to go there.
''And I think he and Coach Brooks have him headed in that direction.''