Dickerson On Midseason Mackey List

It's taken several position changes and more than three seasons with the Pitt football team, but senior tight end Dorin Dickerson finally has made an impact with the Panthers.

After starting out as a highly-recruited athlete from West Allegheny High School in suburban Pittsburgh, Dorin Dickerson tried to play wideout, tailback and outside linebacker before settling in at tight end before this past season. Now, in his second year at the position, Dickerson is a star.

The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Dickerson leads the nation with eight touchdown receptions, and he is among 22 players named to the midseason John Mackey watch list. The Mackey Award is presented annually to the nation's top tight end by the Nassau County Sports Commission.

"We're blessed with two veteran tight ends in seniors Nate Byham and Dorin Dickerson,'' Pitt offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti said. "We can split them out or keep them in tight for blocking. But Dorin gives us a lot of options.

"We've used him a lot of different ways, out of the backfield, split out, in motion and in tight, and he's clearly taken advantage of all of them. He's been a big weapon for us and a serious threat around the goal line.''

Dickerson has had an exceptional season thus far with 27 catches for 274 yards (10.1 per reception), and his eight touchdown catches pace the Big East Conference and are tied for the national lead.

Dickerson has scored at least one touchdown in five of Pitt's seven games this season, and he had a career-high three touchdowns in a 54-27 victory at Buffalo and two scores in the Panthers' 35-10 win at Louisville.

"That's our running game or passing. Dion, Ray, Baldwin, Oderick, Nate, me, a lot of guys. Coach Cignetti and Billy make sure we all get the ball, so it's been great so far. But we have to keep it going, because there are a lot of big games remaining this season.''

In Pitt's dramatic come-from-behind 24-21win against Connecticut Oct. 10, Dickerson had a 27-yard touchdown catch that was coupled with a 2-point conversion to tie the game at 21-21 with 7:35 remaining. His clutch TD catch helped wipe out a 15-point third-quarter deficit for Pitt and set the stage for the game-winning field goal as time expired.

The 2009 John Mackey Award recipient will be selected by a vote by the award's selection committee and announced Dec. 10. Semifinalists will be announced on Nov. 16 with finalists named Nov. 23.

Former Pitt tight end Kris Wilson, now a member of the NFL's San Diego Chargers, advanced to the final three players for the Mackey Award in 2003. That honor eventually went to University of Miami tight end Kellen Winslow.

Pitt (6-1 overall, 3-0 in the Big East) surged into the national polls this week with a No. 19 ranking in the USA Today coaches' poll, No. 20 by The Associated Press writers and No. 20 in the inaugural Bowl Championship Series (BCS) ratings.

The Panthers play host to Big East foe South Florida (5-1, 1-1) Saturday at noon at Heinz Field. It is the Conference game of the week and will be an ESPN regional telecast.

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