Courtney: What are the Ducks getting in Avante Dickerson?

Oregon added the 4-star cornerback from Nebraska on Signing Day

Posted on February 3, 2021

Chris Courtney
  By Chris Courtney of WFOD for SportsPac12

After adding four-star running back Byron Cardwell to its 2021 recruiting class roughly a week and a half ago, the Ducks and head coach Mario Cristobal were at it again on the first day of the February signing period Wednesday, adding another four-star prospect to their ranks in the form of Omaha (Neb.) Westside cornerback Avante Dickerson.

Ranked as the top overall prospect in the state of Nebraska and the eighth-best cornerback in the country, per 247Sports Composite Rankings, Dickerson becomes the third corner to sign with the Ducks during the 2021 recruiting cycle, joining fellow four-star recruit Jaylin Davies and three-star prospect Darren Barkins. Dickerson is also the seventh prospect in the Ducks’ 2021 recruiting class to wear the distinction of being the no. 1 recruit in their respective state, joining Kingsley Suamataia (Utah), Ty Thompson (Arizona), Keith Brown (Oregon), Seven McGee (New York), Moliki Matavao (Nevada), and Terrance Ferguson (Colorado).

Originally a verbal commit to Minnesota, Dickerson de-committed from P.J. Fleck and the Golden Gophers’ program on January 24 before considering both Oregon and Nebraska as his final destinations. With 24 offers to his name, Dickerson ultimately signs with the Ducks, re-affirming Oregon’s no. 6 national ranking in 247Sports’ Composite Team Rankings.

Below I take a closer look at Dickerson’s game, examining his weaknesses and strengths, as well as projecting how he may make an impact for the Ducks when he ultimately arrives on campus.

Notable weaknesses

Lacks elite physicality: The biggest knock on Dickerson from watching film is the lack of elite physicality that he demonstrates. Listed at an even 6-feet and 170 pounds, Dickerson’s lightweight frame isn’t particularly conducive to holding up against the run, nor does he exhibit natural instincts when it comes to playing physically. Oregon’s proven strength and conditioning program should improve that, however.

Faced suspect prep competition: This isn’t really Dickerson’s fault, but it’s hard to measure just how valid Dickerson’s four-star rating is compared to other four-star prospects at his position based on the high school competition he faces. The state of Nebraska isn’t necessarily a hotbed for talent, so there could be some wide-eyed moments for Dickerson as he adjusts to competition he’ll join at Oregon.

Notable strengths

Quality ball skills: One of Dickerson’s strongest qualities is his ability to make plays in coverage. Defensively, he demonstrates a knack for effectively locating the football while in flight and positioning his body to either intercept or bat away the pass. His 6-foot-4 wingspan, coupled with his work at receiver at the high school level, has only helped sharpen these skills.

Dynamic return man: With the ball in his hands, Dickerson is a dynamic athlete who is capable of changing the complexion of a game. If he’s unable to carve out an immediate role on defense as a freshman, he could be a player who finds himself in the mix on special teams, particularly as a return man.

Great quickness: Part of what makes Dickerson such a talented cover corner and return man is his exceptional quickness. The burst he demonstrates enables him to apply tight coverage to receivers, seldomly leaving him out of position to make a play on the ball.

Overall outlook

Despite being a late addition to the Ducks’ 2021 recruiting class, Dickerson fills a major need for an Oregon defensive backfield that is light on depth at the cornerback position. Unfortunately, Dickerson’s addition doesn’t do much to address the staggering lack of experience behind 2021’s expected starters in Mykael Wright and DJ James, but he does provide the unit with another highly-touted athlete who will be expected to compete for reps almost immediately.

Dickerson’s physical profile certainly fits the mold in terms of the athletes that the Ducks have sought to acquire at the cornerback position. Length and quickness are two of Dickerson’s most notable attributes, but his ability in the return game could potentially give him a leg up on seeing the field before his fellow incoming freshman enrollees at corner in Jaylin Davies and Darren Barkins.

I have genuine concerns about Dickerson’s lack of physicality and the quality of the competition he faced at the prep level that helped prop up his four-star rating, but anytime you can add a player with Dickerson’s enormous potential, you do it and ask questions later.

This story also appears at and is syndicated with permission. Follow WFOD on Twitter @_WFOD and Chris Courtney @csquared02.

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