It was clear that going into the 2008 season, that the offense that Army would institute would be some version of the option. However, the initial transition period and even as the season unfolded would suggest that there was plenty of room for growth and improvement on several levels. Most notably was the initial play at quarterback, the play calling and the lack of production at wide receiver.
As the season kicked off, the quarterback position was a gray area, if not controversial as the decision had to be made between going with an experienced and pro-style quarterback in Carson Williams versus the more athletic, but inexperience Chip Bowden. Williams kicked off the season as the starter, but by the Texas A&M game, it was Bowden's offense to run for the balance of the 2008 campaign.
Although the offense showed some life under Bowden, the play calling remained somewhat vanilla and any evidence of a passing game was a moot point.
Although Bowden's passing was much better and on target during the final game of the season versus Navy, all games prior to that he struggled with his passing accuracy. However, the southpaw quarterback can not shoulder all the blame and one area where quality play was deficient, was at wide receiver.
The Army receivers were lacking in game breaking speed (with the exception of Damion Hunter), effective route running, the consistency to make both the easy and tough catches, and when they did make the reception
the YAC were almost non-existent.
Hence, one of the major focal points for the Army staff for this year's recruiting class has been at wide receiver. There were plenty of targeted prospects, such as Ricky Marvray (UCLA), Roby Toma (UCLA), Chris Omigie (undecided) and Jordan Hopgood (undecided), to name a few.
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
But there is one receiver prospect that has always been atop the Black Knights' recruiting list, but fell under the radar of most colleges and that's Tyler Dickson out of Lexington (OH) Lexington. Army's running back coach Tucker Waugh has maintained steady communication with Dickson for sometime now and it paid dividends today. Just this morning, Dickson made it known to Waugh that he wanted to become a Black Knight. "Coach Waugh was by this morning and about 9:45am I gave him my verbal commitment," shares the Ohio native. "I'm very happy - I knew I was going to commit earlier to Army and I could tell that Coach Waugh was very excited with my decision."
ROOM TO GROW
Many observers that have followed Dickson's progression believe that his best football is still ahead of him. "He just turned seventeen and physically still has room to grow," shares Lexington High School's head coach, BJ Payne, who has witnessed first hand Dickson's talents as a three year starter. "I'm telling you, Army has gotten themselves a special player. His dad played with the Lions, so he has the pedigree."
"Before I came to Lexington High School, at my previous high school (Glen Oaks) I coached Brian Hartline and who now starts at wide receiver for Ohio State," explains Payne. "Tyler plays like Brian
both are hurdlers and Brian was state champion. Their strides are very similar, but Brian is more finesse and Tyler plays the game very physically. He doesn't get re-routed or pushed off his routes and think about this, you have a 6-foot-0 kid with a 39-inch vertical compared to a 6-foot-3 kid with a 32-inch vertical
. Tyler will go up and pull it down."
Speaking of pulling down, the 6-foot-0, 195 pound receiver halted in 51 balls this season, for 1,016 yards and 14 touchdowns, as Lexington finished the season at 11-1 and he was selected All-Ohio. He was been timed at the University of Cincinnati combine at 4.5 in the forty, but feels that he can do much better. "Each combine that I went to this summer was on the tail end of a big track meet, driving for hours to get there
sometimes I was just exhausted," says Dickson, who will make his way to USMAPS to start off his Army football career.
Both Dickson and his high school coach, Payne agreed that Coach Waugh played a major factor in the receiver's commitment to Army. "He's a real nice guy and he had a lot to do with my decision," confirms Dickson. "The feelings between Waugh and Tyler are mutual and I know that Coach Waugh loves him (Tyler). This is now two players we have sent in two years to West Point and Tucker is a huge reason why these kids go there and I hope the new coach keeps him."
The other player that Coach Payne was referring to is former Lexington running back Brad Gallik who is currently making his mark at the USMAPS and who gave his experience at the prep school high marks and that was a plus sign for Dickson. "I text him (Brad) today and let him know that Tyler committed to Army," declares Payne. "He and Tyler have been in constant contact throughout the recruiting process."
Adding Dickson to the 2009 class, which already has receiver commitments from New Jersey prospect E-Jay Tucker, Scott Williams from Orange (CA) Lutheran High School, along with Nathan Hughes who was initially part of the 2008 recruiting class, now gives the Black Knights four solid prospects.
There is no question that the coaching staff has and will continue to upgrade regarding the talent coming in at the wide receiver position.
Yes, Dickson may be a diamond in the rough, but he is a diamond sure enough and a solid get for Army.
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