Because no school has been able to sway Garrett Dickerson either which way in one of the more high-profile national recruiting sagas of 2014, Northwestern commit and Bergen Catholic teammate Cameron Queiro thought he’d give it a go himself.
Whether he wants to hear about it or not – and whether or not he openly acknowledges its influence on his thinking – Dickerson has heard all about Northwestern’s recent flurry of touted recruiting pickups. From four-star wideout Dareian Watkins to three-star running back Auston Anderson and everyone in between, Queiro has reminded Dickerson of every new development.
“I’m just doing my best to upgrade our class,” he said via text message Friday. “We can use his help, and I can guarantee we will be in the Rose Bowl in a few years.”
My first thought was, even if Quiero can’t actually promise an invitation to the tradition-laden classic in Pasadena, his words must mean something, right?
“I believe in it,” Queiro said of his Rose Bowl ambitions.
If he can convince Dickerson as much, the Wildcats could be on the verge of making their biggest recruiting splash of 2014, which – in light of recent commitment developments – underscores just how coveted the four-star tight end/defensive end really is.
His top five, in no particular order, reads as follows: Ohio State, Michigan, Northwestern, Alabama and Stanford. Each program offers its share of plusses and minuses, but Dickerson contends he remains completely neutral.
“I would say I’m pretty even right now,” he said. “I plan to learn more about each program and I’ll get closer to a decision eventually.”
Of the five schools listed in Dickerson’s top five, two (Ohio State and Alabama) are recruiting him as a tight end, one (Michigan) as a defensive end, and Northwestern and Stanford have indicated no preference. Dickerson is perfectly content to play on either side of the ball and maintains that position choice ranks relatively low on his scale of recruiting priority. “I’m willing to do anything to help my team out,” he said.
Academics, coaches and the all-important catchall recruiting cliché, “fit”, are more urgent, in Dickerson’s mind. With those categories established as his main criteria, Northwestern registers favorably on several levels. For one, the academics are key. “You’re going to get a great education here,” he said.
The coaches, and their personal approach, are another aspect yanking on the Northwestern portion of Dickerson’s five-way recruiting tug-of-war game. “I feel like they’re my coaches,” he said. “I know just about all of them pretty well.” News of the Wildcats’ new facilities didn’t hurt matters, either, but maybe the most compelling (and probably the most obvious) aspect of Northwestern’s case for Dickerson is someone who committed to the Wildcats just three years ago.
The possibility of joining a team with older brother and 2011 committ Cameron, and having an established relationship with a teammate well before stepping on campus isn’t lost on Dickerson. “That’s definitely appealing,” he said. “Just having him there, having someone to talk to, some who knows the run of the mill.”
On the other side, Cameron hasn’t pursued his little brother with anywhere near the same persistence as Queiro, instead opting for a passive approach. He’ll offer his Northwestern recruiting “spiel” every once in a while, Dickerson maintains, and the brothers converse almost every day, but neither Cameron – nor the Dickerson parents – are pushing Garrett to join his brother in Evanston.
“They’re not really trying to guide me here or there,” Garrett said. “They’ve been really helpful through the journey so far.”
One of the residual benefits to having recruited and signed Cameron three years ago is that Northwestern identified Garrett at the formative stage of his recruitment and became the first school to offer him on signing day 2012. “They were the first school to realize my talent and what I offered,” he said. “That’s special.”
The Northwestern offer was the first of many, and for any Wildcats fans thinking Dickerson might reach a decision over the next few weeks or months, measured patience is probably the most reasonable outlook to have with Dickerson’s timeline. He still hasn’t visited one of his top-five schools, Alabama, and he said he hopes to take an official visit to Northwestern (though he did mention he could visit Evanston this summer instead) before coming to a conclusion.
Those travel plans would appear to push his judgement day well into his upcoming senior season.
“I’d say I’m undecided about when I’m going to make a decision,” he said.
That’s not the only thing Dickerson is undecided about. Five schools are on the table, Northwestern is included and speculating any further than that is mere guesswork at this stage.