TALLAHASSEE -- It happened almost by accident.
Gavin Dickey, just entering his teenage years, sat idle in his home and started to write. The words flowed onto the piece of paper."I don't really know how I got interested in writing poetry," Dickey said. "I was just sitting at home, and I just starting writing and it just starting rhyming. And I just kept writing ever since."
Now 18, Dickey's love for poetry remains, but some of his greatest artistry has come on the football field. The starting quarterback at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Dickey orchestrated his team's offense with a steady hand, as a poet laureate might arrange his verse.
Earlier this month, Dickey led the Trojans to their second state championship in three seasons. That accomplishment, coupled with his 30 touchdown passes and 1,064 yards rushing, merited Dickey a spot on the Orlando Sentinel's 83rd annual All-Southern high school football team.
His leadership skills, though, earned him the nod as the Sentinel's player of the year in Florida.
"He's always saying something to keep everybody focused," said Lincoln offensive lineman Brandon McCray. "But when it comes down to it, he's a team leader, and teams like to hear from their leaders."
Moments before the kickoff of the Trojans' Class 4A title game, Dickey stood before his teammates to read a speech. "He was talking about how much he loved and cared about his teammates and his coaches," Lincoln Coach David Wilson said. "I think he was challenging everybody on the team -- players and coaches -- to give their all for the next 48 minutes."
The result: a 28-20 Lincoln victory against Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas. The victory capped a 14-1 season for the Trojans, who are ranked ninth in the country in USA Today's Super 25 and are likely to move up when the final poll is released Wednesday.
It also ended Dickey's high school career on a high note. He amassed a 43-5 record as Lincoln's starting quarterback. In 17 playoff games with Dickey directing the offense, the Trojans went 15-2, with their two losses by a combined three points. Their 16-14 loss to Bradenton Southeast in 1998 ended with a missed field goal. Two years later, the Trojans lost 21-20 to Melbourne Palm Bay in overtime when their extra-point attempt was blocked.
Perhaps the memory of those errant kicks drove Lincoln players' and coaches' thinking in one of this year's most memorable playoff games. Trailing 45-44 in double overtime at Pensacola Pine Forest, the Trojans had a choice: Go for the tie with an extra point, or go for the win with the two-point conversion.
Coach Wilson called a timeout.
"It was amazing," Dickey says. "The whole offense said, `Go for two!' I mean everybody was just that confident that we could get those two points."
The play, "Jumbo right, naked pass left," relied on Dickey. He faked a handoff right and rolled to his left, where two Pine Forest players waited.
Dickey stopped, threw a pass over the defenders and hit tight end Justin Woody on a crossing pattern in the back of the end zone. Game over.
"We basically had him hemmed up, and he made a good play to get the ball," Pine Forest Coach Jerry Pollard said. "I think basically he was the difference in our game."
Wilson said the play "will stick out in the minds of Lincoln fans forever."
Even before his senior season, the 6-foot, 190-pound Dickey had caught the attention of college coaches. His 4.4-second time in the 40-yard dash and strong right arm -- he can throw a football 75 yards -- made sure of that. The coaches have inundated Dickey's home with phone calls all fall.
Dickey stands out in baseball and in sprint races during track season. He's such a good athlete that some college coaches have wanted to move him to cornerback or wide receiver.
But Dickey, who patterned himself after former Florida State signal-caller Charlie Ward, has maintained he only will attend a school that wants him to play quarterback.
So far, he has made official visits to Notre Dame and the University of Florida and has scheduled trips to Clemson, Miami and Southern California.
Dickey visited South Bend, Ind., in October, when Bob Davie still coached the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame fired Davie on Dec. 2 and hired Georgia Tech Coach George O'Leary one week later. Dickey took the news in stride because O'Leary had recruited him to play at Georgia Tech. On Dec. 13, O'Leary called Dickey's home to try to schedule a visit. The next day, O'Leary resigned after it was revealed he had falsified his academic and athletic credentials.
"I'm just totally confused by that whole situation because I kind of feel I wasted a visit to Notre Dame," Dickey said.
Wherever he goes, that school will get more than a quarterback. It will also have a poet.
One of Dickey's most poignant works, "Fallen Star,'' served as a eulogy for schoolmate Railey Sancho, a member of the girls track team and a football team statistician who died of bacterial meningitis in May.
"You will be loved forever because of what you did and who you are," the poem ended. "And now we can only sit and mourn our fallen star."
The Dandy Dozen
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Gr. From College
QB Brandon Cox 6-3 195 Sr. Hewitt, Ala. Trussville UF, Auburn, LSU
RB DeAngelo Williams 5-9 198 Sr. Wynne, Ark. Ark., Miss., Mem., Iowa, Ark. St.
QB Gavin Dickey 6-1 190 Sr. Tallahassee Lincoln ND, UF, Miami, USC, FSU
RB Michael Cooper 6-0 210 Sr. Sylvania, Ga. Screven Co. Georgia commitment
RB/DB Michael Bush 6-3 205 Jr. Louisville, Ky. Male Underclass
RB Jason Miller 6-0 205 Sr. Iota, La .Undecided
RB Jerious Norwood 6-1 190 Sr. Brandon, Miss. Miss. St. commitment
RB T.A. McClendon 6-0 215 Sr. Albemarle, N.C. NC St. commitment
RB/WR Troy Williamson 6-2 190 Sr. Aiken, S.C. Silver Bluff Clem., SC, Tenn., UGa., Ga. Tech
RB Ralph King 5-10 175 Sr.Murfreesboro, Tenn. Riverdale SC, Auburn, LSU, Tenn.
QB Vincent Young 6-5 200 Sr.Houston, Texas, Madison Texas, FSU, UM, Kan. St., Ark
LB Ahmad Brooks 6-3 230 Sr.Woodbridge, Va. Hylton UVa., FSU, Va. Tech
WR Tim Castille, 5-11/220 Jr. Birmingham Briarwood (Underclass)
DL Kyle Tatum, 6-5/260 Sr. Prattville (Alabama commitment) RB Jason Allen, 6-1/200 Sr. Muscle Shoals (UGa/Ala/LSU/Tenn)
WR Chad Jackson, 6-2/200 Jr. Hoover (Underclass)
Honorable Mention: RB Ken Darby, 5-11/190 Sr. Huntsville Butler (Alabama commitment); WR Ben Obomanu, 6-2/185 Sr. Selma (Aub/UF/Ala/Neb/LSU); DE Jeremy Clark, 6-3/270 Sr. Daphne (Ala/LSU/Ky/SouMiss/AUB/JuCo); RB Titus Ryan, 6-2/190 Sr. Tuscaloosa County (Ala/Aub/LSU/JuCo); LB Dameco Ryans, 6-2/212, Sr. Bessemer Jess Lanier (Undecided); QB Jamarcus Russell, 6-4/225 Jr. Mobile Williamson (Underclass).
RB Dedrick Poole, 5-10/187 Sr. Little Rock Central (Arkansas
DL Freddie Barnett, 6-1/238 So. Texarkana (Underclass)
QB Reid McKinney, 6-2/205 Sr. Warren (La-Monroe/Cent.Ark)
DB Anthony Jones, 5-9/195 Sr. El Dorado (ArkSt/Mem/Tulsa)
Honorable Mention: OL/DL Greg Jones, 6-5/265 Sr. Jonesboro (Ark/Tenn/Miss/Mem); DL Anthony Perry, 6-1/232 Sr. Little Rock McClellan (Tulsa/Ark-PB); DE Chase Pressley, 6-4/282 Sr. Fort Smith Southside (Arkansas commitment); QB Rhett Lashlee, 6-2/185 Sr. Shiloh Christian (Tulsa/others); WR Bret Smith, 6-2/165 Jr. Warren (Underclass); QB Thomas Thrash, 5-10/165 Sr. Pulaski Academy (Undecided).
RB/DB Leon Washington, 5-9/180 Sr. Jacksonville Jackson (FSU/UF/SCaro/Okla)
RB Duane Coleman, 5-11/190 Sr. Naples (Pur/UM/OhSt/MichSt/WVa/Clem)
DB Brandon Meriweather, 5-11/175 Sr. Apopka (UM/UF/FSU/UCF/SCaro/LSU)
Ath Devin Hester, 5-11./170 Sr. Riviera Beach Suncoast (UM/FSU/UGa)
Honorable mention: DB Pat Watkins, 6-3/200, Sr. Tallahassee Lincoln (FSU/UGa/UNC/UM); OL/DL Davin Joseph, 6-3/270 Sr. Hallandale (MichSt/OhSt/VaT/FSU/Aub/Pitt); LB Buster Davis 5-9/238 Sr. Mainland (OhSt/Neb/Tenn/USC/FSU); Ath Reggie Nelson, 6-2/185 Jr. Palm Bay (Underclass); OL Max-Jean Gilles, 6-5/325 Sr. North Miami Beach (UM/UGa)
DL Marcus Jackson, 6-3/235 Norcross (UGa/FSU/GaT/Tenn/Clem/UNC)
DE Julian Jenkins, 6-4/225 College Park Woodard Academy (UM/Mich/PennSt/NDame)
LB Tyrone Cox, 6-2/215 College Park Banneker (Tenn/GaT/UNC/FSU/UF/Neb)
OL Marcus McNeil, 6-7/3-00 Ellenwood Cedar Grove (UM/OhSt/GaT/UNC)
Honorable Mention: RB Kenny Irons, 5-11/180 SR. Dacula (South Carolina commitment); ATH Chansi Stuckey, 6-0/170 Sr. Warner Robins Northside (Clem/FSU/UGa/LSU); DB Chris Reis, 6-2/190 Sr. Roswell (Georgia Tech commitment); DB/WR Jeff Francoeur, 6-3/190 Sr. Lilburn Parkview (GaT/Clem/Miss/UF/Vandy/FSU); RB Brent Thomas, 5-10/190 Sr. Mableton Pebblebrook (UGa/Aub/Clem/Juco); LB Darrell Burston, 6-2/220 Sr. Fayetteville Starr's Mill (FSU Commitment); *DL Kedric Golston 6-4/280 Sr. Tyrone Sandy Creek (Tenn/UGa/UF/FSU/Aub) *played only six games before being sidelined by automobile accident.
RB Monquantae Gibson, 6-1/195 Sr. Louisville Moore (Kentucky commitment)
OL Rob Smith, 6-5/295 Sr. Fort Thomas Highlands (Tennessee commitment)
QB/LB Jeff Duggins, 6-1/205 Sr. Danville Boyle Co. (EKh/WKy/Morehead)
QB John Wesley Bonin, 6-2/193 Sr. Bardstown (Lville/Wky/Marshall)
Honorable mention: RB Michael West 5-11/175 Sr. Louisa Lawrence Co.(UK/Lville/IU); QB Brian Brohm, 6-4/195 So. Louisville Trinity (Underclass); OL/DL Joe Brady, 6-3/280 Sr. Beechwood (Kentucky commitment); RB/DB Arliss Beach, 6-0/190, Sr. Ashland Blazer (Kentucky commitment); LB Brad Booker, 6-2/210 Sr. Bowling Green (Kentucky commitment); DB Jake Carney, 6-0/175 Sr. Lexington Catholic (Notre Dame commitment); RB/DB Chris Barclay 5-8/175 Sr. Louisville Male (Wake Forest commitment).
WR Thomas Bachman, 5-8/170 Sr. Shreveport Evangel Christian (Ttech/UCLA/Ark)
DL Kyle Williams, 6-3/285 Sr. Ruston (Aub/LSU/Tenn/Neb)
RB Justin Vincent, 6-0/200 Sr. Lake Charles Barbe (LSU commitment)
QB Robert Lane, 6-3/210 Jr. Monroe Neville (Underclass)
QB Brad Booth, 6-1/185, Sr. Baton Rouge Parkview Baptist (Louisiana colleges); QB John David Booty, 6-2/185 Soph. Shreveport Evangel Christian (Underclass); RB Darnell Williams, 5-10/170, Sr. Many (Undecided); QB Terrence Jones, 6-1/180, Jr. Port Sulphur (Underclass); RB Eric Newman, 6-0/180 Sr. Oak Grove (Louisiana colleges); QB Nick Cannon, 6-3/200, Sr. Hahnville (Tul/LSU)
DB Darren Williams, 6-3/200 Sr. Clarksdale (Mississippi State commitment)
RB Jamal Pittman, 6-2/230 Sr. Columbia (Ole Miss commitment)
WR Tee Milions, 5-11/170 Sr. Starkville (Undecided)
QB Ken Topps, 6-0/165 Sr. Shannon (Mississippi State commitment)
Honorable Mention: DL Parys Haralson, 6-3/235 Sr. Madison Central (Miss/MissSt/SMiss/Tenn); OL Richard Burch, 6-5/300 Sr. Brandon (Mississippi State commitment); LB Chris Herring, 6-2/230 Sr. Batesville South Panola (Ole Miss commitment); OL Jay Kirkland, 6-4/300, Sr. New Albany (Ole Miss commitment); OL/DL Tim Duckworth, 6-4/293 Sr. Taylorsville (Undecided); LB/TE Dejuan Robinson, 6-4/270 Sr. Hernando (Undecided)
DB A.J. Davis, 6-1/190 Sr. Northern Durham (UNC/Tenn/FSU/NCSt)
QB Chris Leak, 6-4/215 Jr. Charlotte Independence (Underclass)
WR Mario Raley, 6-1/185 Sr. Charlotte Independence (UGa/Clem/Tenn)
LB Omar Gaither, 6-3/215 Sr. Charlotte Meyers Park (Tennessee commitment)
Honorable Mention: OL Derek Morris, 6-6'/335 Sr. Huntersville North Mecklenberg (Tenn/UNC/UGa/OhSt); LB A.J. Nicholson, 6-2/230 Winston-Salem Mt. Tabor (Tenn/UNC/FSU/UF); WR Jejuan Rankins, 6-0/180 Windsor Bertie (Mich/Tenn/NDame/UNC); DB Calvin Lowry, 6-0/185 Fayetteville Byrd (Penn State commitment); QB Curt Dukes, 6-2/210, Newton Conover (Nebraska commitment); QB Drew Williamson, 6-2/195 Jr. Burlington Cumming (Underclass)SOUTH CAROLINA
RB Demetris Summers, 6-2/210 Jr. Lexington (Underclass)
LB Ricardo Hurley 6-3/235 Sr. Greenwood (SCaro/UGa/Tenn/FSU/UF) TE/DL Moe Thompson, 6-4/235 Sr. Stratford Goose Creek (Clem/SCaro/UGa/GaT)
QB Sylvelle Newton, 6-2/195 Jr. Bennettsville Marlboro County (Underclass)
Honorable Mention: QB Josh Harris, 6-3/180 Sr. Union (Duke/Clem/SCaro); WR Kelvin Grant, 6-3/190 Sr. Camden (Clem/SCaro/UGa/GaT); QB Anthony Johnson, 6-3/220 Sr. Duncan Byrnes (Ala/MTSU/Lville/UGa); RB Reggie Merriweather 5-10/190 Sr. North Augusta (Clem/UF/IU/MichSt/WF); DB/WR Frederick Bennett, 6-2/180 Sr. Manning (Clem/UNC/SCaro/Md/Aub); DB Michael Gilmore, 6-1/170 Sr. Greenville J.L. Mann (GaT/UNC/Md/VaT)
QB Michael George, 6-2/180 Sr. Alcoa (Ala/Tenn/MTSU)
OL/DL Willie Henderson, 6-7/270 Sr. Memphis Ridgeway (Tenn/Ark/UF/LSU)
OL John Henry, 6-6/270 Sr. Nashville Hillsboro (Tennessee commitment)
RB Gerald Riggs Jr., 6-0/220 Sr. Chattanooga Red Bank (Tennessee commitment)
Honorable mention: RB Levonte Barber 5-11/180 So. Cleveland (Underclass); WR Adarius Bowman, 6-4/210 Jr. Chattanooga Notre Dame (Underclass); DE Jason Hall, 6-4/245 Sr. Chattanooga McCallie Prep (Tennessee commitment); DL David Ligon, 6-5/270 Sr. Memphis Christian Brothers (Tenn/UF); KS James Wilhoite 5-11/180 Sr. Hendersonville (Tennessee commitment); WR Brandon Wright, 5-10/160 Sr. Memphis East (Ark/LSUMem/Tenn/MissSt/Wva/UF)
QB Reggie McNeal, 6-2/180 Sr. Lufkin (Texas A&M commitment)
LB Aaron Harris, 6-3/230 Sr. North Mesquite (Texas commitment)
QB Drew Tate, 6-0/170 Jr. Baytown Lee (Underclass)
RB John Johnson, 6-0/180 Sr. Houston Sam Houston (LSU/UF/Tex/Bay/Okla/OklaSt)
Honorable mention: RB Paul Mosley, 6-3/212 Sr. Austin Anderson (Undecided); RB DaBryan Blanton, 6-1/165 Sr. Forney (Undecided); DL Rodrique Wright 6-5/325 Sr. Alief Hastings (Tex/KanSt/LSU/Okla/A&M); Ol Justin Blaylock, 6-4/325 sr. Plano East (Mich/UF/FSU/Tex/Neb/A&M); TE Eric Winston, 6-7/285 Sr. Midland Lee (UM/Mich/NDame/Tex/A&M); DB Brodney Pool, 6-3/190 Sr. Houston Westbury (Oklahoma commitment)
DL Jonathan Lewis, 6-2/290 Sr. Richmond Varina (Uva/UM/VaT)
RB Mike Imoh, 5-7/185 Sr. Fairfax Robinson (VaT/GaT/Pitt/Tenn)
DL Micah Littlejohn, 6-2/260 Sr. Hampton Phoebus (Undecided)
LB Kai Parham, 6-4/235 Sr. Virginia Beach Princess Anne (Uva/FSU/Stan/ND/Mich/VaT/UF)
Honorable Mention: QB Marcus Vick, 6-1/180 Sr. Newport News Warwick (UM/Tenn/VaT/Uva); DE/FB Xavier Adibi 6-4/215 Jr. Hampton Phoebus (Underclass); RB Travis McCright, 5-9/180 Sr. Hampton Phoebus (Undecided); KS Connor Hughes, 6-0/180 Sr. Williamsburg Lafayette (Mich/Okla/Uva/UNC/Uva/UM/UF/Clem); OL Brandon Gore, 6-6/316 Sr. Bealeton Liberty (VaTech commitment); WR Josh Baldwin, 6-3/205 Sr. Fredericksburg North Stafford (Wva/SCaro/OhSt)