Notre Dame football recruiting: Commitment from DL Dickerson fits Irish

South Bend Tribune

Matt Dickerson knew the day he stepped on Notre Dame’s campus that he found his future home.

The 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive lineman from San Mateo, Calif., arrived on Friday for his two-day visit. On Saturday, he gave a verbal commitment to Irish head coach Brian Kelly. Dickerson confirmed his pledge with the Tribune via text message.

Dickerson received a verbal offer from Notre Dame at the end of May following a busy spring that brought offers from the likes of UCLA, Oregon, USC and others. Things started to turn in the direction of the Irish after that.

“When I first got the offer I was emotional about it because I realized how great of a school it was,” Dickerson said via text. “I honestly did not know too much about it. I walked in with an open mind and walked out convinced it was the perfect school for me.”

During his visit, Dickerson said, the interaction with the coaching staff and a number of the freshmen players made him realize he fit in with the team. As for on the field, he learned the coaches like him as a player that can play both defensive end or tackle and build up to a initial playing weight of 295-310 pounds.

His ability to play on the interior of the defensive line would fill a void the Irish coaching staff has been targeting in the 2014 class. Much like the six other Irish commits recruited to play in the defensive front seven, Dickerson has versatility in his game.

“He can play across the defensive front for Notre Dame which is key with some of the horsepower the Irish have lost last year and what they will lose this year,” said 247Sports national writer Steve Wiltfong. “Dickerson will be a

nice plug for them. You look at the way Notre Dame has recruited – nobody’s a one-trick pony. They get guys who can do a lot of things. It makes them tough to prepare for on both sides of the ball.”

Dickerson, who returns to San Mateo’s Junipero Serra High for his senior season this fall, ranks as a three-star prospect according to Rivals and 247Sports. Rivals slates Dickerson as the No. 17 strongside defensive end in the 2014 class, 247Sports has him as the No. 66 defensive tackle.

CBS Sports Network national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming likes Dickerson a bit more than those rankings.

“I think he’s a legit four-star player. He’s got the size, got the burst,” Lemming said. “As a junior, he was really competitive and considered one of the better defensive lineman in northern California.”

Lemming said the Irish have more work to do recruiting another elite nose guard, but Dickerson has the potential to be a star. Combined with Friday’s commitment from linebacker Richard Yeargin III, the Irish vastly improved their recruiting class by addressing needs, Lemming said.

“Notre Dame’s most desperate needs were tackle and linebacker and now they’ve filled those out,” he said. “They still need a couple more, but there’s no sense of panic now because they have Dickerson and Yeargin.”

For comparison’s sake, Lemming said he likes Dickerson better than another Irish defensive tackle target Thomas Holley, who’s ranked as the No. 4 defensive tackle in the country by Rivals and 247Sports.

The commitments of Yeargin and Dickerson made for an impressive recruiting surge by the Irish coaching staff before fall camp starts on Monday. Two of the staff’s top recruiters – Tony Alford and Mike Denbrock – reached into the talent-rich states of Florida and California on consecutive days for commitments.

Now with 17 verbal commitments, Notre Dame’s 2014 class ranking has climbed higher into the country’s top 10. Rivals ranks the Irish at No. 6 with the highest average star rating in the country at 3.65. 247Sports slates Notre Dame at No. 7.

Seven months after playing in the national championship game, Notre Dame has maintained its recruiting momentum.

“Not only are they loading up with great prospects, but loading up with guys that bring great size and length,” Wiltfong said. “Notre Dame is a much bigger and physical football team now than it was before this staff got here, and they’re continuing to add to that.”

Watch highlights of Dickerson here.

Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly earned $1.46 million in pay from the university in 2012. (SBT file photo/James Brosher)