May 1—As a two-sport star who hits home runs and scores touchdowns, North Hills’ Robert Dickerson hears the occasional Kyler Murray reference. Older generations go to Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson as their football-baseball icon.
Dickerson may smile at those comparisons, but he certainly takes both sports seriously.
If the junior outfielder/wide receiver/defensive back gets his wish, he someday will play both football and baseball in college. He drew his first Division I football offer April 17 from Fordham, a Patriot League program in New York City.
“All the schools that I’ve been talking to know I want to play both,” Dickerson said. “They’re talking back and forth with their baseball coaches, seeing how they feel about me and seeing if they can make it work.”
The 6-foot, 185-pounder with a quick right-handed swing has provided some power in the heart of North Hills’ lineup. Dickerson bats third and leads the team with five home runs and 15 RBIs. To some, he may appear leaner than other barrel-chested high school power hitters, but there’s no questioning his strength. He put two over the fence in a game at Fox Chapel.
“He creates some good separation with his swing,” North Hills coach Steve Long said. “He is very athletic, and he is strong — even though he’s a wide receiver/defensive back — he’s put together physically for sure.”
But Dickerson isn’t all power. He also leads the Indians in batting average (.405) and on-base percentage (.458).
“His game is hitting the ball hard and speed,” Long said. “He’s aggressive, plays with confidence and trusts his swing. As a high school baseball player, trusting your ability can go a long way.”
In the fall, Dickerson scored nine touchdowns and had more than 1,000 all-purpose yards. He finished with 22 catches for 347 yards and earned first-team all-conference honors at defensive back.
Football is his best route to a college scholarship, but he’ll try to hold onto his baseball dreams for as long as he can.
“My first love is definitely baseball,” he said. “I picked up a bat when I was 3 and started playing T-ball when I was 4.”
He started football in middle school. Nowadays, he balances baseball season with twice-weekly offseason football workouts. He also plays 7-on-7 football on weekends with Evolve, a program that travels the region.
He’d been patiently waiting for his first college scholarship offer but was a little stunned during his phone call with Fordham assistant David Weeks. Fordham’s head coach is Joe Conlin, a former Pitt defensive lineman from Greensburg.
“Before (Weeks) was about to hop off, he was like, ‘Oh yeah, we’d like to offer you a scholarship,’ ” Dickerson said. “I couldn’t believe it at first. Then he said it again. I started crying. I went down and hugged my mom and called my dad right away.”
Dickerson comes from a football family. His uncle, Julius Dawkins, was a star wide receiver at Pitt in the early 1980s, and a cousin, Robb-Davon Butler, played at Robert Morris and briefly for the San Diego Chargers.
He plans to attend at least the Pitt and Penn State football camps this summer, workouts that could draw him offers from more schools. Yet he also plays summer baseball with two teams and doesn’t intend to miss those trips, so he’ll be very busy come June and July.
“In the winter it dies down,” Dickerson said. “I can focus on lifting and working on my speed. But in spring and summer, it’s all the time.”
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .