(18) KORI DICKERSON-Tight End, 6-4, 235, Sr.*/Sr.
2001: The athletic and quick Dickerson, who started in 2000 at strongside linebacker, was moved to tight end in 2001 spring drills and was impressive as the starter there as a senior in 2001. Overall in 2001 while starting all 12 games, he caught 25 passes for 334 yards (13.4 avg.) with 2 TDs and also had a run for 2 yards. He was invited to play in the Paradise Bowl. He also is a high jumper for the USC track team.
In the San Jose State opener, in his first game as a tight end he caught 3 passes for 41 yards. He had 2 catches for 51 yards against Kansas State, then added 4 grabs for 32 yards at Oregon, 2 for 29 yards at Stanford. He had 2 receptions for 27 yards against Arizona State, including his first career TD (a 21-yarder). At Arizona, he had 3 catches for 24 yards, with a 17-yard score. He added 2 grabs for 21 yards against Oregon State, then caught 2 passes for 9 yards and had a 2-yard run at California. He had 3 receptions for a career- and game-high 92 yards (including a career-long 66-yarder) UCLA. He added 2 catches for 8 yards against Utah.
2000: Dickerson, a defensive end the previous 3 years, was moved to linebacker during 2000 spring drills and started 10 games (all but Washington State and Notre Dame) on the strong side as a junior in 2000. He also starred on special teams. Overall in 2000 while appearing in all 12 games, he had 32 tackles, including 2 for losses of 2 yards, 1 deflection and 1 forced fumble (versus Oregon). He had 6 tackles against Arizona, 5 at UCLA, 4 versus Notre Dame, and 3 against California and Arizona State. Because of his jumping ability (he is a high jumper for the Trojans), he also was used as a wide receiver on a Hail Mary pass against Oregon (it fell incomplete). He was USC's Special Teams Player of the Year.
1999: Dickerson played often in 1999 as the backup to Lonnie Ford at defensive end. He even started against Oregon State. Overall in 1999 while appearing in all 12 games, he made 14 tackles. He had 4 tackles versus Oregon State and 2 each against Hawaii and Arizona. A fine athlete, he also high jumped for the USC track team in the spring of 1999.
1998: Dickerson backed up Sultan Abdul-Malik at defensive end as a redshirt freshman in 1998. Overall while appearing in all 13 games in 1998, he made 10 tackles, including 3 for losses of 19 yards (with 2 sacks for minus 17 yards), and broke up 1 pass. He had 3 stops against both Purdue and Washington State.
1997: Dickerson redshirted as a freshman defensive end in 1997, his first year at USC.
TRACK: Dickerson is a high jumper for the USC track team. In the spring of 2001, he competed in 2 meets, placing sixth at the Long Beach Relays (in 6-0 ¾) and then second at the USC-UCLA Dual Meet (in 6-8, equalling his career best).
In the spring of 2000, he competed in 4 meets, winning the Long Beach Relays (in a season-best 6-6 ¾), then placing fourth at the Trojan Invitational (6-2), tied for sixth at USC's Centennial Invitational (6-4) and third at the USC-UCLA Dual Meet (6-5).
In the spring of 1999, he high jumped a personal-best 6-8 while placing third in the UCLA dual meet. He jumped 2 other times, going 6-7 for second place at the Carl Rossi Relays and 6-4 at the Trojan Invitational.
HIGH SCHOOL: His 1996 honors included Prep Star All-American, Super Prep All-Farwest, National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West first team, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, All-L.A. City 4-A (as a defensive lineman) and All-Southern Pacific League first team as a senior at Washington High in Los Angeles (Calif.). On defense in 1996, he made 125 tackles, 16 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions, while on offense as a tight end he had 12 catches for 252 yards (21.0 avg.).
As a 1995 junior, he made All-Southern Pacific League first team. He also was on Washington's track team.
PERSONAL: He's an international relations major at USC. His sports hero is Ken Griffey Jr. He has 2 daughters, Ajia, 5, and Angel, 2.
KORI DICKERSON ON: Playing linebacker in 2000 after being a defensive end: "It wasn't really a big transition technique-wise. The biggest difference was going from a three-point stance to a two-point stance. It definitely had its advantages, though. It gave me more chances to run to the ball and get in on plays. Playing defensive end, you have to stop the run and also pass rush. Linebacker is three dimensional in that you have to do those things, plus drop back into pass coverage. That was my biggest adjustment…I played linebacker in high school. It gave me the ability to do what I do best, and that's run to the ball."
Track versus football: "Participating in track helps you work on your competitive edge. I strive on competition and track is the ultimate form of competition. But football is all about heart. When I was being recruited, someone asked me, 'How big is yor heart?' If you love playing a sport, you have to give it your all. I try to do that in football."
Fatherhood: "It is an ongoing process. You learn things about your kids every day. Being a father definitely has its rewards. I know that everything I do is for them. I want to be successful for them…The biggest thing is the time issue. I'm at school and football practice a lot. But it's just like having a job in the real world. When you get home, you can't just sit around. I always have energy for my kids. Sometimes I want to relax, but you can't just say you're tired. You have to make time. Parents have so much effect on their kids and I just want to be the best dad I can be…I can't party all night or hang out all night. The whole philosophy of taking care of a child and putting yourself second makes you grow up. It helps for football, too. I want to be the best I can be to provide for my children… I became a father at a young age. It happened. I don't regret it. The biggest thing is growing up without a father figure, like I did. Having kids, I always want them to have the opportunity that I never had…People look at me and go, 'I couldn't be in that predicament.'…I'm going to do everything I can for them. I'll be at every recital and, if they're playing sports, I'll be at every game…It's a good balance. I focus on being a dad. I'm going to be there 100 percent…When Ajia was 2, she learned to sing the USC fight song. She'd sing it at home after seeing me on television."
His political ambitions: "I'm very interested in politics and global affairs. I try to follow world affairs as much as I can keep up with what's going on. It concerns me because our country controls the destiny of so many other countries…Growing up, I never liked politics. But now that I know the inside scoop, I like how the diplomats work."
His personality: "I'm a Sagittarius and am pretty outgoing, but I am also a perfectionist and a workaholic. I combined those traits so that I may seem outgoing and spontaneous on the field, but I still try to keep everything with a professional demeanor. I try to get along with every one of my teammates."
The sports he played as a youngster: "When I was younger, I was in the Boys Club of America. It cost $5 to play a sport. I ran track and played baseball, football and basketball. We even did a kind of gymnastics. We called it 'flipping.' We did backflips on the mats. I used to flip off walls and trash cans. I also liked to dive into the pool off the high dive. I could do one-and-a-halfs and backflips from that height."
WHAT OTHERS SAY: USC defensive end Lonnie Ford: "I see football and college and how it consumes my time. And he has two kids? It just amazes me how he balances his time. I think he's really happy in his life. You can just tell he has a good head on his shoulders."
GAME-BY-GAME WITH KORI DICKERSON