ROCK HILL – The South Carolina football program can add one name — and two players — to its 2011 recruiting class.
Half-brothers Gerald Dixon Jr., a Northwestern defensive tackle, and Gerald G. Dixon, a South Pointe defensive end — the sons of former USC standout Gerald Dixon Sr. — committed to the Gamecocks Tuesday afternoon as part of a ceremony honoring Rock Hill-area football players as well as the state championship Northwestern team at City Hall.
In front of a packed city council chambers, the two opened up a small metal case and pulled out a pair of white USC caps.
“The university we’ll be attending is the University of South Carolina,” said Gerald Jr. to a chorus of cheers and a standing ovation.
The Shrine Bowl linemen will follow in the footsteps of their father, a former Rock Hill High star who played at USC in 1990-91 before going on to a 10-year career with three teams in the NFL.
“I guess we can start a legacy down there and get some things going at Carolina,” Gerald Sr. said of his sons.
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Gerald Jr., who had 100 tackles and 10 sacks last season, anchored the defensive line for a Northwestern team that went 15-0 and won the Class 4A Division 2 state championship. The 6-4, 260-pound Gerald G. Dixon, who had 132 tackles and 19.5 sacks last season for the Class 3A state runners-up, played on the same line at South Pointe as fellow defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the nation’s top prospect and another target of the Gamecocks.
Clowney missed the ceremony, which also featured Northwestern quarterback and Tennessee commitment Justin Worley, because he’s playing in Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando, Fla. The Dixons hope to convince him to join them in Columbia.
“We’ve been working on Clowney. I think it’s working,” said Gerald Jr., who got a taste of how they would work together in the Palmetto State’s winning Shrine Bowl effort.
“With Clowney and all of the Rock Hill guys on the field together, I was thinking to myself, ‘I like this,’” Gerald Jr. said.
The Dixons, whose sister is a junior at USC, are the program’s 27th and 28th commitments for this year’s class. Before the Shrine Bowl, they last played on the same youth team their father helped coach to a state championship in 2003.
“They’re very excited about it,” Gerald Sr. said. “It was in their heart to go down there and want to prove something to themselves. Also, they wanted to play together. That’s a plus for both of them.”
Both sons could not be happier about their final choice.
“I always wanted to go to South Carolina. It’s been a great day, and it’s been a blessing for me and my family. I’m just thankful,” Gerald Jr. said. “I like the way Steve Spurrier is building the program. I love the facilities. I just like everything at South Carolina.”
Gerald G. also had a strong desire to be near his mother, Dequeta Robinson, who suffered a stroke last year.
“It came down to my mom,” he said. “I wanted to be close to her at home.”
Gerald Sr. believes both can help USC on the defensive front. Gerald G. moved from defensive tackle to end for his senior season.
“I had a good year at end, and the coaches at South Carolina said they were going to put me at end,” Gerald G. said.
Gerald Jr. plays an interior spot, but is not the lumbering type.
“To be a big guy, I’m really quick,” Gerald Jr. said. “I’m like a pass rusher and a run stopper. I’m very athletic.”
Gerald Sr. frequently took both sons over the years to Williams-Brice Stadium to watch the Gamecocks play. Now the Rock Hill assistant coach, who seldom got to see his sons play on Friday nights, cannot wait to return to his alma mater to watch his sons play in the same colors he once wore.
“I’m going to get a whole game in at one place,” he said. “And plus get a tailgate in.”
Asked about naming both of his sons, who were born about four months apart to different mothers, after him, he put it this way: “What other better name?”