Walk-On's Dream Comes True

Jeff Dickmann, the senior wide receiver/defensive back from Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame, only got a little recruiting attention because of his height (5-9). But growing up a UCLA fan, and after working hard to make his dream a reality, he'll be playing for UCLA this fall...

One player we saw during the 2007 season who really made an impression was Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame receiver/cornerback Jeff Dickmann (5-9, 180).

It was during Notre Dame's nationally televised contest with Van Nuys Birmingham that Dickmann stood out, catching 10 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown from Notre-Dame-bound Dayne Crist.

Dickmann had a big senior season for the Knights, finishing with 54 catches for 787 yards and eight touchdowns.

Dickmann only received nominal interest from a few schools, his size often being cited as his drawback.

A lifelong UCLA fan, Dickmann had hoped to one day play for the Bruins. His cousin, Patrick Larimore, verballed to the Bruins last spring and signed with UCLA in February. Dickmann hoped to somehow join Larimore in Westwood.

So Dickmann diligently began to pursue the opportunity to walk-on to UCLA, knowing that it wouldn't be easy, but figuring it was worth a shot. When UCLA coach Karl Dorrell was fired, and Director of Football Operations Bob Lopez, who was instrumental in explaining the process of walking on, left, Dickmann didn't know where things would go.

But he kept after it and last week, received the news he was hoping for.

"I finally got the paperwork saying I was accepted into UCLA and that I would be able to walk-on to the football team," said Dickmann. "I was really excited, because at first, it was just their word that I was going on, there was nothing on paper. So I was kind of waiting around, and I just wanted something in writing to be at ease. So when the letter came, I was pretty excited."

Dickmann knows what he's getting in the opportunity to play at UCLA. "It's just a tremendous privilege and honor to play for a school like UCLA," said Dickmann. "There are not a lot of schools that offer the academic and athletic excellence UCLA does. It's so exciting because UCLA has pretty much been my dream school from the start, so the chance to go to there is a dream come true."

Dickmann is plenty aware that his future coach, Rick Neuheisel, took a similar road himself, walking-on out of high school before earning a scholarship, and later, the Rose Bowl MVP.

"I knew that he was a walk-on and I think that was definitely a plus, because he was open to it," said Dickmann. "I haven't talked to him since I received the letter, but he was the one that told me I'm a Bruin."

Dickmann played primarily receiver for the Knights last fall, but the interest from UCLA came with the mindset that he would play on defense.

"I was really open to anything that could get me on the team and into UCLA," said Dickmann. "My main focus this year was on offense, so I was a little surprised that they liked me on defense, but I had played defense all through high school. Coach (DeWayne) Walker is such a respected coach and I'm really privileged to play under Coach Walker."

And Dickmann knows, as a walk-on, he'll likely have to make major contributions on special teams.

"I'll do anything and I'm ready to definitely get after it," said Dickmann. "I'll do anything on special teams or do whatever I need to, to work my way up. It's like I'm starting all over but that's my ultimate goal, getting in there and playing and earning a scholarship."

Dickmann will come in as a preferred walk-on, meaning he'll get to report when the rest of the freshmen do in August and participate in fall camp.

"I'm going in and taking Summer School classes in June, and then I'll have the summer workouts, and then I get to report in August," said Dickmann.

Dickmann is thrilled with the idea of spending his college years with his cousin, Larimore, and getting to play with him in the process.

"It's going to be a lot of fun playing with him," said Dickmann. "He went to Hart and he was in Santa Clarita so I only really see him on holidays, but now, going to school with him and seeing him every day, it's going to be great experience. He was totally supportive throughout the process and he was trying to get me in there, helping me out with the coaches, giving me contact information. He was a really big help."

Another signee that Dickmann hit it off with was Crespi quarterback Kevin Prince, a Serra League rival, who's turned out to be his workout partner this spring.

"It was definitely a little weird talking with him because he was a rival in high school, but I started talking to him at the spring practices and it was cool," said Dickmann. "We've actually played golf together and thrown a couple of times during the offseason. It's been good getting to know him and it will be cool playing with him."

Dickmann said now that his dream has become a reality, he's focusing on making the most of his opportunity with UCLA.

"I'm just so eager to get going and I've already been running with Dayne, Anthony (McDonald) and Wes (Horton). I'm just eager to get started. The opening game against Tennessee, on ESPN, it's going to be pretty ridiculous. I've been a huge UCLA fan for so long, and now I'm going to be in their uniform. It's going to be an eye-opening experience," said Dickmann.

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