Gerald Dixon, Gerald Dixon, Gerald Dixon

Brothers can’t wait to play together in college

jperson@thestate.comFebruary 21, 2010 

FORT MILL - Having had success with one Gerald Dixon, South Carolina is recruiting two more:

Gerald Dixon and his brother Gerald Dixon.

The half-brothers, who play at rival high schools in Rock Hill, are considering following in their father's footsteps. Gerald Dixon Sr. was a Gamecocks linebacker from 1990-91 before going on to a successful, ten-year NFL career.

The Dixon brothers are junior defensive linemen who have not played on the same team since 2003, when their father helped coach their Pee-Wee squad to a state championship. But the two spend most weekends together at their dad's home in suburban Charlotte and plan to play at the same college.

"I would rather be with him," Gerald Jr. said. "I would rather play together."

That could make for some confusing moments for fans, teammates and coaches.

When the two are mentioned in recruiting stories, they are identified by their schools: Gerald Jr. is a defensive tackle at Northwestern, Gerald Gervaris (his middle name) is a defensive tackle at South Pointe who is moving to defensive end for his senior season.

At their dad's house, Gerald Jr. is known as "Gerald." Gerald Gervaris, who is five months younger, answers to "Lil' G," although at their respective schools both go by "Big G."

Confused yet? There's more.

Gerald Sr., 40, is an assistant coach at Rock Hill, meaning there is a Gerald Dixon at each of the city's public high schools.

"We just say we've got to split it up," Gerald Sr. said, smiling. "We've got three high schools, and each of them needs a Gerald."

The arrangement has made for some awkward father-son moments.

When Gerald Jr. intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown against Rock Hill, his father said he "didn't know whether to cheer or be mad."

When South Pointe beat Northwestern 35-14 for the Class AAAA Division II championship in 2008, Gerald Sr. did not know who to root for, so he wore a path in the concrete walking around Clemson's Memorial Stadium.

Northwestern turned the tables last season by beating South Pointe in the Upper State championship game. That game featured a rare head-to-head matchup between the brothers when Gerald Gervaris lined up at tight end for South Pointe in a goal-line situation and blocked his brother three successive plays.

Gerald Jr. made the tackle the first two plays before South Pointe's Quinten Darby followed Gerald Gervaris' block for a 2-yard touchdown and the Stallions' lone score.

"He said I held him," Gerald Gervaris said. "But I didn't hold him."

The brothers live with their mothers in Rock Hill, about two miles apart. They remember visiting their father in San Diego when he was with the Chargers, the last of three NFL teams he played for from 1992-2001.

The boys were among 30 friends and family members at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium in 2000 when Dixon scored on an interception return against the Carolina Panthers. Dixon has the game ball and a framed photo of the play - one of the few highlights of San Diego's 1-15 season.

The boys occasionally will pop in one of their father's game tapes in the TV room at their dad's house, which includes a pool, workout room and a finished basement where the brothers play video games and entertain friends on the weekends.

Though Gerald Sr. says he will not push his sons toward USC, there is a Gamecocks influence throughout his three-story, brick home in Fort Mill. His garnet helmet sits on a mantle in the basement, while his diploma is displayed above the fireplace on the main level.

A USC cup rests on the kitchen counter, and there are other Gamecocks knickknacks tucked in the family room off the kitchen.

"They know how Carolina treated me," Gerald Sr. said. "I think they're open-minded, and I just want them to go through the experience all the way and make sure they chose what they wanted to."

USC is the only school to have offered both brothers, who were scheduled to attend the Gamecocks' junior day Saturday.

Gerald Gervaris, the leaner of the two at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, also has offers from North Carolina, Michigan and Michigan State. Gerald Jr. (6-2, 270) has heard from North Carolina, N.C. State and Duke.

Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, who played with Gerald Sr. in San Diego, recently called his former teammate to check on his sons' interest in the Cardinal. The Dixon boys agree Palo Alto, Calif., might be a little too far.

"I'd like to stay close to home. I'm a mama's boy," Gerald Jr. said.

"I am, too," his brother said.

Other than their father, the Dixons have additional family ties to Columbia and the Gamecocks. Their sister, LaQueisha Dixon, is a USC sophomore, while their 7-year-old brother, Dhani, lives in Columbia with his mother.

Besides coaching, Gerald Sr. owns a car lot in Rock Hill and - along with former USC players Otis Morris, Harold Green and Sterling Sharpe - has a stake in Pro Bowl Motors in Columbia. Gerald Sr. took his sons to every USC home game last fall but one.

"I'd enjoy it if they did go to South Carolina, but it's going to be their choice," he said.

Gerald Sr., whose second cousin is Tennessee Titans safety Chris Hope, took a detour before arriving at USC. After a spotty academic record at Rock Hill High, Gerald Sr. attended junior college in Garden City, Kan., a community of about 30,000 he described as "one of the wild, wild West places."

He trusts his sons will take a more direct route to college.

"Academics, that's your first priority because you could always break a leg or something could happen to end your career," Gerald Sr. said. "So you want to have something to fall back on."

Gerald Jr. has a 3.3 GPA at Northwestern; Gerald Gervaris carries a 3.0 at South Pointe.

The brothers often hear same-name jokes, including references to former heavyweight boxer George Foreman, who named all five of his sons "George." The USC official who checks in recruits at Williams-Brice Stadium told them: "Y'all got a little George Foreman thing going on."

A USC fan called them "G-squared" at a game last season.

They don't seem to mind.

Their father still has the bunk bed the two shared as children, and the brothers plan to room together at USC - or wherever they end up.

They will come as a package deal: Gerald Dixon and his brother Gerald Dixon.

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.

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