UT in lead for tight end?

Tennessee may be leading for one of the South's premier tight end prospects.

Richard Dickson is a 6-3 1/2, 238-pounder from Ocean Springs (Miss.) High School. He caught 35 passes last fall for more than 500 yards and is ranked America's No. 11 tight end prospect by Scout.com heading into his senior year.

Dickson has nearly 30 scholarship offers. According to Sonny Shipp of TigerRag.com, Tennessee is ''the only school that will definitely get an official visit from the blue-chip recruit. Thanks to proximity, the LSU Tigers also appears likely to get a visit.

''Most likely because they have consistently been one of my favorites,'' Dickson told Shipp. ''It¹s close to home and it is a big-time football program that is right down the road. They have some good facilities and I¹ve really developed a good relationship with the coaches over there.''

Dickson was first-team all-state last fall as both a tight end and defensive end, helping his team to a runnerup finish in the state playoffs. An exceptional student, he carries a 3.6 grade-point average and a 23 ACT score.

Athletically, he covers 40 yards in 4.7 seconds, bench-presses 300 pounds and boasts a 33-inch vertical leap. Like most high school seniors, Dickson hopes to go out with a bang.

''I want to get back to the state championship again but this time take home the crown,'' he told Shipp. ''Personally, I want to get in double digits in sacks and score more touchdowns on offense. Every guy wants to get in the end zone more plus it would help my team win more games.''

Although high regardly as a tight end, Dickson also has college potential as a defensive end. He registered more than 100 tackles last fall, including a reported 35 stops for minus yardage.

It's a safe bet Dickson will be one of the South's top recruits this year, and it's an even safer bet that Tennessee and LSU will be going all out to secure his commitment.

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