With official visits looming this fall, 4-star recruit Garrett Dickerson has chosen a path of minimalism, narrowing his list of schools down to three.
According to ESPN.com, Dickerson, a rising senior at Bergen Catholic in New Jersey, is now only choosing between Stanford, Northwestern and the Michigan Wolverines.
Dickerson stands 6'4'' and weighs 270 pounds. Blessed with that nice combination of height, bulk and athleticism, he is capable of playing both tight end and defensive end at the next level. Though many saw Dickerson playing offense at the dawn of his recruitment, it's now looking more and more like he might make the transition to defense.
Which is exactly why Michigan would be such a good fit for him. The Wolverines already have a 4-star tight end, Ian Bunting, signed up from the Class of 2014, and they, like any team, could always use more talented pass rushers. And that is exactly what Dickerson would provide.
Michigan's 2014 class also includes Lawrence Marshall, another 4-star defensive end who many predicted would go to Michigan State. That coup was great for the Wolverines in a vacuum, but would amplify in importance if the team signed Dickerson. It would give Michigan a pair of 4-star pass rushers to build around.
There was a bit of a void at that position in Michigan's 2013 class, where only one defensive end, 4-star freshman Taco Charlton, took his talents to Ann Arbor. For some teams, two 4-star recruits in two seasons would be a gold mine. But Michigan isn't some teams. Not every prospect pans out, and if either Marshall or Charlton go awry, they need another capable body. They need a guy like Dickerson in the fold.
More than anything, though, Dickerson would get to work with Brady Hoke, a coach who's proven his ability to be flexible with players. He was bold in moving Denard Robinson to receiver late last season, leaving himself vulnerable to vitriol, but in truth it was the best move for the team. And judging by Robinson's early form with the Jacksonville Jaguars, it was probably the best move for the player too.
Hoke would exhibit the same type of suppleness with Dickerson, letting a unique athlete grow into his body and find out what he does best. Michigan might prefer him to play defense, but if Dickerson wants to prove himself at tight end, the coaching staff should not be hostile to that idea. They've recruited well the past few years; they can afford to be patient.
By contrast, a team like Stanford usually cares about technical skill more than physical upside. Their defensive lineman archetype is not the guy who switched over from tight end; it's the guy who was born and raised to battle opposing tackles.
Northwestern has been more amenable to defenders like Dickerson, but doesn't possess that big-stage opportunity of Michigan. The allure of wearing Maize and Blue has not been lost on Dickerson, who said (per ESPN.com):
I got to go out there and got to see being in the Big House, 110,000 people.
I have good contact with Coach [Curt] Mallory. I speak to him a lot and really feel I can fit into their system and make an impact. They’re excited about me and want me to get out there again on an official.
It's the first part that's most important, that intoxicating effect the Big House clearly had. That's the kind of thing that Northwestern simply can't match.
Still, there are plenty of obstacles still standing between Dickerson and Ann Arbor. It's clear by his top three that Dickerson values his education, and Stanford and Northwestern, like Michigan, are two of the most prestigious academic institutions in America. His older brother, Cameron, plays wide receiver at Northwestern and Dickerson's high-school teammate, Kyle Quiero, just committed to play in Evanston too.
But Michigan would afford Dickerson a unique situation, both in prestige and opportunity. At the end of the day, that probably makes it the best fit of his final three.