Is Cal-area footballer Dalvin Jamal-Milton being overlooked by Mid-South, Pac 12 schools?

Lorenzo Jackson remembers that 10-foot pole, remembers it like yesterday.

At the tender age of three, Jackson’s grandson, Dalvin Jamal-Milton — a rather active, energetic kid — was seen somehow climbing atop that rather long, medal pole during what ultimately turned into a holiday worth remembering for his beloved paw paw.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' --- A flourishing, crafty football player Jamal-Milton has become, one, who, with another masterful display in this, his final season at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California --- in the outskirts of Sacramento --- could very well find himself playing on Saturdays around this time next year.  A stocky, speedy, 5-foot-8 running back who has evolved as an integral force for the Marauders’ potent rushing attack in recent years, Jamal-Milton has been nothing short of impressive, although he admittedly brings into the 2015 season higher expectations. (Photos submitted by A. Jamal)

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ — A flourishing, crafty football player Jamal-Milton has become, one, who, with another masterful display in this, his final season at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California — in the outskirts of Sacramento — could very well find himself playing on Saturdays around this time next year.
A stocky, speedy, 5-foot-8 running back who has evolved as an integral force for the Marauders’ potent rushing attack in recent years, Jamal-Milton has been nothing short of impressive, although he admittedly brings into the 2015 season higher expectations. (Photos submitted by A. Jamal)

“When he was three years old, Dalvin climbed up a 10-foot pole, using pure arm and stomach strength just to reach an Easter egg,” Jackson told sports journalist Andre Johnson. I knew from that point on he would be an elite football player.”

A flourishing, crafty football player Jamal-Milton has become, one, who, with another masterful display in this, his final season at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California — in the outskirts of Sacramento — could very well find himself playing on Saturdays around this time next year.

A stocky, speedy, 5-foot-8 running back who has evolved as an integral force for the Marauders’ potent rushing attack in recent years, Jamal-Milton has been nothing short of impressive, although he admittedly brings into the 2015 season higher expectations.

Never mind the assortment of accolades he’s garnered in recent years, honors such as: the Shrine Bowl Most Valuable Player in  2011 while playing for the Rosemont Jr. Wolverines; Offensive MVP in 2012 while a member of Jesuit High’s freshman team; MVP 2012 of Jesuit’s freshman rugby squad in 2012; and Offensive MVP of Jesuit’s junior varsity team in 2013.

A TRUE TALENT --- Jamal-Milton was named the Shrine Bowl Most Valuable Player in  2011 while playing for the Rosemont Jr. Wolverines; Offensive MVP in 2012 while a member of Jesuit High’s freshman team; MVP 2012 of Jesuit’s freshman rugby squad in 2012; and Offensive MVP of Jesuit’s junior varsity team in 2013.

A TRUE TALENT — Jamal-Milton was named the Shrine Bowl Most Valuable Player in 2011 while playing for the Rosemont Jr. Wolverines; Offensive MVP in 2012 while a member of Jesuit High’s freshman team; MVP 2012 of Jesuit’s freshman rugby squad in 2012; and Offensive MVP of Jesuit’s junior varsity team in 2013.

To his credit, this thriving multisport athlete had shown flashes of resiliency during what was an efficient junior campaign.

In being installed in his first full season on the varsity squad, Jamal-Milton essentially showed no signs of rust, having ended the season with 424 rushing yards and five rushing scorers. To his credit, he managed to help propel the Marauders on effective drives, considering he averaged 5.7 yards per carry.

He was just as remarkable as a member of the school’s rugby team, given he managed to start in 10 outings.

MR. ALL-AROUND --- He was just as remarkable as a member of the school’s rugby team, given he managed to start in 10 outings.

MR. ALL-AROUND — Jamal-Milton was just as remarkable as a member of the school’s rugby team, given he managed to start in 10 outings last year.

Still, looking ahead, many who have followed Jamal-Milton’s rise and development as a football standout — he runs an average of 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash and bench presses approximately 225 pounds — believe he possesses the tools and skills to play football at the collegiate level, although he has yet to field any official scholarships offers.

But what does Jamal-Milton thinks about all this?

“I’ve always imagined college football as being a utopia for players who truly love the game of football,” Jamal-Milton said. “I have yet to be on a team where I could walk on the field, knowing that all of my teammates share the same passion for football as I do. This dream of mine could not get any better.”

CHECK OUT JAMAL-MILTON IN ACTION: http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/dalvin-jamal-milton/Hlph8hysEeS00gAmVebEWg/videos.htm?videoid=46d0b324-edd6-40fe-80ae-b627453afd69

What so astounding about his athletic progress over the years, Jamal-Milton said, is that he had grown accustomed to silencing naysayers and critics — or those who sensed that as an undersized athlete, he didn’t have what it takes to compete at a high level.

Uh oh.

Somebody told them wrong.

HE SAID IT --- “I’ve always imagined college football as being a utopia for players who truly love the game of football,” Jamal-Milton said. “I have yet to be on a team where I could walk on the field, knowing that all of my teammates share the same passion for football as I do. This dream of mine could not get any better.”

HE SAID IT — “I’ve always imagined college football as being a utopia for players who truly love the game of football,” Jamal-Milton said. “I have yet to be on a team where I could walk on the field, knowing that all of my teammates share the same passion for football as I do. This dream of mine could not get any better.”

“Since the day I first set foot on the field with my helmet and shoulder pads in hand, I’ve always been looked at as a lesser child,” Jamal-Milton explained. “As a result of being looked at this way, I was moved to play on the (offensive) line. I played line until my sixth grade year. I remember my uncle, Rashad Jamal, walking into my room and asking me if I’m ready to work. I replied saying, ‘Yes, but for what?’ He replied to me, saying, ‘For your opportunity.’

“From that day on, I worked every day to cut weight in order to be eligible as a running back,” Jamal-Milton continued. “When the day came for weigh-ins, I made weight and ran the ball for the first time like I never thought I could. Every day I wake up, I remember the work and pain I had to go through that led to the life I live today. I often realize that with hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, great things can be accomplished without a doubt.”

A trend that, to his credit, has taken place time and again since he his grandfather, his self-proclaimed “No. 1 fan,” caught his climbing that 10-foot pole at the tender age of three.

For Jamal-Milton, the biggest question now is at what point college scouts will acknowledge his assertiveness and immense skills.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

Quarterback instructor Joe Dickinson having huge impact on Mid-South-area players

JOE COOL --- Joe Dicksinson, who served as an assistant to former Oklahoma legendary coach Barry Switzer in the mid-1980s, has trained a number of Mid-South-area quarterbacks during a football coaching career that spans nearly 30 years. (Photos submitted by Joe Dickinson0

JOE COOL — Joe Dickinson, who served as an assistant to former Oklahoma legendary coach Barry Switzer in the mid-1980s, has trained a number of Mid-South-area quarterbacks during a football coaching career that spans nearly 30 years. (Photos submitted by Joe Dickinson0

For Joe Dickinson, New Year’s Day essentially is a time of reflection.

Among the reasons is that he has the luxury of watching a number of the nation’s premiere quarterbacks, many of whom he trained intensely long before they entered the collegiate ranks.

“You’re just happy that you can give something back to the game,” Dickinson told MemphiSport during a recent telephone interview from Jacksonville, Fla. “It makes you feel very proud obviously. It makes you feel you’re still apart of the game. I stay in touch with a lot of them.”

Having served as quarterbacks coach for several high-profile coaches during his well-publicized tenure on the sideline, Dickinson is currently the lead quarterback instructor and cam director for DeBartolo Sports University, a position he’s held since 2007. Dickinson frequently conducts quarterback camps and private training nationwide. And, since 2007, more than 1,100 quarterbacks have been trained by Dickinson, ranging from amateur to professional levels.

Since joining DeBartolo Sports, Dickinson, 57, has had a profound impact on a plethora of up-and-coming quarterbacks, many of whom ultimately signed National Letters of Intent with major Division 1 programs.

This year was no exception for Dickinson, a quarterback coaching guru whom many have labeled the mastermind behind having trained an assortment of America’s most sought-after passers for the Class of 2014.

So far, at least seven high school quarterbacks who trained under Dickinson at DeBartolo Sports have inked with major colleges: David Cromwell (Alabama), Rafe Peavey (Arkansas), Landon Root (Northern Illinois), Travis Smith (Wake Forest), Collin Feller (Miami, Fla.), Tristian Threatt (Harvard), and Alexander Diamont (Indiana).

His Class of 2015 quarterbacks appears promising, considering Shawnee (Okla.) High highly-touted prospect John Jacobs III last week made a verbal commitment to play at East Carolina University next fall.

So how to explain the continuous success of Dickinson who, according to former San Francisco 49er offensive lineman Randy Cross, has had a major impact of how today’s collegiate game is played?

MID-SOUTH PRESENCE --- Since joining DeBartolo Sports in 2007, Dickinson has trained more than 1,100 quarterbacks, several of whom have ties to the Mid-South.

MID-SOUTH PRESENCE — Since joining DeBartolo Sports in 2007, Dickinson has trained more than 1,100 quarterbacks, several of whom have ties to the Mid-South.

For starters, Dickinson, a Wayne, Okla. native, has enjoyed a career in which he has been afforded opportunities to work alongside college football finest coaches, most notably former Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl-winning coach Barry Switzer. Dickinson served as a graduate assistant to Swizter from 1983-85 during which he helped the Sooners to the 1985 national title.

“I’m a big fan of the way Joe coaches and handles quarterbacks,” said Cross, whose son, Brendan, trained under Dickinson before playing quarterback for Wake Forest. “There are people who have PR firms and all sorts of sponsors and stuff for quarterbacks. But the way Joe does it, he has invented the new way to throw. He knows it from a fundamental standpoint, from a mechanical standpoint.”

Not only that, Cross, who starred for the 49ers and won three Super Bowls between 1976-1988, said Dickinson’s contributions are still impacting the way the college game is played today, although he doesn’t remotely assist college coaches.

“College football coaches are recruiters,” Cross said. “They don’t have time to coach guys up. So they need guys like Joe Dickinson. He can help with footwork. He can help with throwing. He can help with film study, especially for young players who must know how defenses are set up. I think his insight is unique.”

Prior to joining the DeBartolo Sports staff, Dickinson enjoyed a prosperous collegiate coaching career that spanned nearly three decades.

From 1986-1989, for instance, Dickinson was the running backs coach at the University of Tulsa before assuming an offensive coordinator position at Marshall University in 1990. Consequently, he took his play-calling skills to nearby Northern Illinois, where he served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 1991-95, a stint that allowed him to oversee the nation’s leading rusher, LeShon Johnson, who amassed 1,976 yards on 327 carries while finishing 6th in the Heisman Trophy voting.

In addition, Dickinson moved back to his native Oklahoma in 1996 during which he assumed a second stint with the Sooners’ coaching staff. He started as the running backs coach from 1996-97 before being promoted to offensive coordinator for the 1998 season. To his credit, Dickinson helped the Sooners to their best finish since 1995, but would leave the program four seasons later after the arrival of OU’s current coach, Bob Stoops.

Dickinson later accepted a running backs coaching position at Tulane before assuming a joining staff at Central Oklahoma from 2003-2006.

Having devoted a majority of his life to helping enhance the lives of athletes, Dickinson admittedly has never grown tired of his craft as arguably one of the best quarterback coaching minds in the game.

“I’ve played (football) in high school and college and I’ve always wanted to coach,” Dickinson said. “I’ve never thought of it as a job. It’s a great sport. It’s allowed me to do a lot for kids. It’s the best sport that teaches how the lessons of how life is.”

Something by which Dickinson, one of football’s brightest minds, relishes quite often.

Especially when he’s watching the annual New Year’s Day bowl games.

Andre Johnson, a senior writer for MemphiSport, is a regular contributor for Bleacher Report. To reach Johnson, email him at [email protected]. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Patrick Willis savors his memorable homecoming to Tennessee

NASHVILLE — Patrick Willis is headed to London this week. First, he had to savor a much-anticipated homecoming, of sorts.

Willis, the San Francisco 49ers All-Pro linebacker who, last year, was named to the Pro Bowl for a sixth consecutive year, played in his home state of Tennessee for the first time in his professional career. Fortunately for the seven-year veteran, it was a rather jubilant return, given the streaking 49ers seized their fourth win in as many weeks with a 31-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans before 69,143 witnesses at LP Field in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.

“Like I said earlier in the week, it’s one of those things where each time I’m allowed to go out and be blessed to be on the field and be able to perform, I always put my best foot forward, no matter whether it’s  in California or being in my home state where I played (high school football),” Willis said.

HAPPY HOMECOMING --- San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis (No. 52) made his second straight start Sunday since being sidelined two games due to a groin injury. The Former Ole Miss star recorded a team-high nine tackles as the Niners upended the Jake Locker and the Titans, 31-17, in Willis' first game in his native home state of Tennessee since he entered the NFL in 2007. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

HAPPY HOMECOMING — San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis (No. 52) made his second straight start Sunday since being sidelined two games due to a groin injury. The Former Ole Miss star recorded a team-high nine tackles as the Niners upended Jake Locker and the Titans, 31-17, in Willis’ first game in his native home state of Tennessee since he entered the NFL in 2007. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

The former Ole Miss All-American showed no signs of rust against the Titans while making his second consecutive start after missing two games because of a groin injury. Willis recorded a team-high nine tackles Sunday for a 49ers defense that is tied for seventh in the NFL with Cincinnati for points allowed (19.29 per game). The 28-year-old Willis, in fact, put on a masterful display in front of hundreds of red and gold-clad 49er fans, many of whom turned out wearing his No. 52 jersey.

Among the sea of red spectators who spent a majority of the game cheering as San Francisco (5-2) staged its most complete outing of the season was a number of Willis’ relatives and close acquaintances, many of whom witnessed firsthand Willis growing up in poverty-stricken Bruceton, Tenn., a small, rural town in Northwest Tennessee with a population of roughly 1,459. Willis had landed a full-time job before he turned 10, working long hours in a neighborhood cotton field. By the time he turned 17, he and his siblings were forced out of their double-wide trailer park home when his father, an alcoholic, became increasingly violent.

It wasn’t long afterward, though, that Willis’ permanent residence was the home of his high school basketball coach. Consequently, he enrolled at Bruceton High, where he became a multisport star in football, basketball, and baseball, becoming the first prep athlete in Tennessee to be nominated for Mr. Football both as a linebacker and running back in the same season. Widely regarded as a three-star recruit by various recruiting analysts, Willis chose Ole Miss over the University of Memphis, where he evolved into a two-time First Team All-American.

 

Last year was a bitter sweet one for Willis and the 49ers, who advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in 19 years before falling to the Baltimore Ravens, 34-31. (Photo by Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

OH, SO CLOSE — Last year was bitter sweet for Willis and the 49ers, who advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in 19 years before falling to the Baltimore Ravens, 34-31. (Photo by Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

Prior to his long-awaited homecoming on Sunday, Willis has enjoyed an efficient professional stint, having registered 839 career tackles and 17.5 sacks in six-plus NFL seasons heading into the 49ers’ game versus the Titans (3-4). Selected with the 11th overall pick by San Francisco in 2007, the organization signed him to a five-year, $53.51 million extension three years ago. And, given his stellar display in Sunday’s win, it’s safe to assume the Niners’ defense is starting to demonstrate the same assertiveness that helped propel San Francisco to its sixth Super Bowl appearance last season. The 49ers play Jacksonville Sunday in London’s Wembley Stadium, Willis’ second international game as a pro and his first since 2010 when San Francisco beat Denver, 24-16, in London.

As Willis tells it, returning to the Volunteer State for the first time since he entered the NFL ranks has only added more memories to what he hopes is a Super Bowl-winning campaign for the defending NFC champions.

“You know, I’m not sure,” said Willis, when asked how many of his relatives and friends made the 105-mile commute from Bruceton to Nashville to witness him play Sunday. “I know my brother and sister came up. My foster parents, they were here. I saw my aunt right at the end after the game. I didn’t know she was here. I saw her as I was walking toward the tunnel. It was nice to see her. She’s actually my dad’s twin.”

Fortunately for Willis, what his friends and loved ones witnessed in his return to Tennessee was that the catalyst of the 49ers’ defense hasn’t missed a beat since the days when he emerged as multisport star at Bruceton, something fans in the world’s largest stadium will witness Sunday in London.

Andre Johnson covers the NFL for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at [email protected]. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.