Avante Dickerson’s football recruiting has been in high gear the past six months. Scholarship offers from Ohio State, LSU, Nebraska, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State and Minnesota assures that the speedy Omaha Westside junior cornerback and returning first-team Super-Stater will be playing college football at the highest level in two years.
He has so many scholarship offers, “I can’t remember them all,” said Dickerson, a four-star recruit nationally according to Rivals.
On the field, however, injuries have put Dickerson, who has electronic 40-yard dash times under 4.5 seconds, basically in idle since the season ended last fall.
First there was a hip flexor last spring that forced him to miss track season and some of the college football combines and workout sessions. Then he popped a hamstring in June, and the 5-foot-11, 165-pound Dickerson has been healing and rehabbing ever since.
Westside coach Brett Froendt has been extremely cautious with his star since preseason practices began a month ago. Dickerson played defense in wins over Bellevue East (35-0) and Papillion-La Vista (48-14), and just a few plays as a slotback on offense against the Monarchs.
Sixth-ranked Lincoln Southeast would love to see that restriction remain Friday afternoon when the No. 4 Warriors visit Seacrest Field (4:30 p.m. kickoff) for the biggest Class A game on the docket for Week 3. A year ago at running back, Dickerson had 100 yards on 10 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 49 and 5 yards in a 29-14 home victory over the Knights.
“I think once he gets healthy, people are going to see that Avante hasn’t lost any speed or feel for the game,” Froendt said. “He’s grown, he’s gotten bigger. There’s still work to do in the weight room to get stronger, but the injuries have held him back a little there.”
Dickerson was pretty blunt when he assessed his offseason since 2018, when he allowed just four pass receptions all season, intercepted two passes, registered 38 tackles (two for losses) and rushed for 794 yards and 12 touchdowns.
“Summer injuries, they suck to have to deal with,” Dickerson said. “All you can do is rehab, be patient and let it heal.
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“It feels good right now,” Dickerson added about the hamstring. “I’m close to being back full-time (on both offense and defense).”
For Grant Tagge, a second-team Super-State linebacker a year ago as a junior, Dickerson’s return to full duty can’t come soon enough.
“It’s not fun going against him (Dickerson) in practice,” said the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Tagge, who led Westside in tackles last season and has 16 this season, including one behind the line of scrimmage. He’s getting both Division I and II college recruiting interest.
“I always prefer being on his side (of the ball) in practice than against him.”
Tagge and Dickerson are two of 13 starters back from a young Westside team in 2018 that went 9-2 and reached the quarterfinals of the playoffs. Left-handed junior quarterback Cole Payton threw for 1,639 yards and 19 TDs a year ago, and Froendt expects the 6-2, 205-pounder to be both a passing and running threat this season.
In the first two games, Payton has hit 14 of 20 passes for 314 yards and four TDs.
Senior wide receiver Cal Weideman (6-0, 170) is just now getting back to full speed after an ACL injury midway through last season. Another with big play potential is 6-2 junior safety/wide receiver Koby Bretz, who’s also been slowed by injury this fall.
The high-powered regular-season matchup with the Knights “will be fun,” Tagge said. “This isn’t make-or-break as far as the season, but it is a chance for some of our new guys to get experience playing against one of the top teams in the state. This game will help us later in the season.”