Football Q&A: Garrett Dickerson talks Northwestern, New York Giants and NFL career

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Football Q&A: Garrett Dickerson talks Northwestern, New York Giants and NFL career

Garrett Dickerson during his career at Northwestern. The former Wildcat scored his first touchdown in the NFL for the New York Giants on August 16.

Garrett Dickerson during his career at Northwestern. The former Wildcat scored his first touchdown in the NFL for the New York Giants on August 16.

Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Garrett Dickerson during his career at Northwestern. The former Wildcat scored his first touchdown in the NFL for the New York Giants on August 16.

Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Garrett Dickerson during his career at Northwestern. The former Wildcat scored his first touchdown in the NFL for the New York Giants on August 16.

Ella Brockway, Reporter

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You couldn’t have scripted better circumstances for Garrett Dickerson’s first professional touchdown. He was playing for the New York Giants, his hometown team, at MetLife Stadium, just 13 miles from where he went to high school, against the Chicago Bears, who play just 15 miles from where he went to college.

On Friday, the former Northwestern superback and current NFL tight end brought in a 10-yard pass for a score to help the Giants to a 32-13 preseason win over the Bears.

The former Wildcat finished with two catches for 17 yards on the night, and had one catch for eight yards in the Giants’ 31-22 preseason win over the New York Jets on August 8. He ended his career at Northwestern in 2017 with 87 catches for 887 yards and nine touchdowns, and was signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent.

The Englewood, New Jersey native impressed in the team’s rookie camp in 2018 and spent much of that fall moving from the waiver wire to the practice squad and eventually to the active roster, where he made his NFL debut on October 22 against the Carolina Panthers.

Two days before his score against the Bears, The Daily caught up with Dickerson at Giants training camp in New Jersey to talk about the lessons he learned from his first year in the league, his expectations for the upcoming season and, of course, Northwestern football.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

The Daily: How’s the competition at the tight end/wide receiver spot going?

Dickerson: Everybody’s bringing it. Everybody is bringing their best foot to the table, and that’s what you want from this type of situation. You want everyone else to bring their (best game) so you’ve got to bring yours. I love every minute of it. You’ve got to embrace the fact that you’ve got to grind every day and be at your best every day. It’s been fun.

The Daily: You’re about to enter your second season in the league. What did you take away from year one in the NFL?

Dickerson: Just kind of how the game works. Little ins and outs of the games, and just some little small things that you might not see drawn on the play sheet or something like that to understand how the game works in between the lines and just some finer details about the game, and how to play.

The Daily: What’s it like playing for a franchise like the Giants?

Dickerson: This is a dream come true. I’m playing in the NFL at home, you know, so this is amazing. I grew up not too far from here, probably about 20 minutes, so it’s great to see a lot of family and friends still coming back to the games, and seeing them when I have a little down time. This is an amazing opportunity. I’m just trying to keep working and keep fighting to do it as long as I can.

The Daily: Were you a Giants fan growing up?

Dickerson: Yeah, I was. So this is great. This is an amazing opportunity, and trust me, I’m loving it.

The Daily: Two seasons out of college, how would you say you’ve grown the most as a player?

Dickerson: Oh, man. I guess once you transfer from college into the NFL, you have to take your game up a notch. Everybody’s going to be bigger, faster, stronger, and you have to elevate your game to that next level. I’d say I definitely have been working on my game in every single aspect to elevate myself, but to also keep up with the competition. You’ve got to get better, cause there’s always new guys coming in now, so I think it’s just trying to elevate my game in every way possible.

The Daily: You were back in Evanston in July with Clayton Thorson, Tyler Lancaster and Justin Jackson. How was that?

Dickerson: It was great seeing the guys. I was back in Chicago training for a couple weeks, so it was great to get back to Northwestern and see a lot of the guys, train with them for a little bit, see Coach Fitz and everybody up there. They’ve got a great thing going, and I’m hoping they have a great season this year.

The Daily: What’d you think of the new facility?

Dickerson: I saw it in the offseason, probably in January. It’s a beautiful facility, top-notch without a doubt. They’ve got everything in there, so just to be able to go back in there as an alumni and be able to use all the facilities is great. I appreciate Coach Fitz and him opening up the facility to us alumni. Every chance I get, I’m going up there and getting a workout.

The Daily: What would you say is the thing that you learned at Northwestern that has paid off the most here in the NFL?

Dickerson: There’s a whole lot of lessons I learned at Northwestern. That’s a tough one. It’s tough to hone in on one specific lesson that I learned while in college, but something that I’ve known since day one was that you’ve got to work hard. You’ve got to grind, you’ve got to embrace the grind, you’ve got to work hard, and if you work hard, hopefully it’ll pay off in the long run. So even when things get low, you’ve got to keep working and keep pushing through and give it your all.

The Daily: There’s a handful of Northwestern guys scattered around the NFL this preseason. What’s it like to see those guys around the league?

Dickerson: Oh man, it’s great. I saw Trevor (Siemian) and Godwin (Igwebuike) this past week when we played the Jets, so it was real good to see them after the game and talk to them for a couple minutes. It’s always good to see some familiar faces, some guys that you spent a lot of time with, so being able to see some old teammates at games is great. Seeing them after the game was fantastic. I just hope they’re doing well, wishing them the best.

The Daily: As an alum who went through this program, how big of a step was last season and making it to the Big Ten Championship Game for Northwestern?

Dickerson: That was huge. I was so proud of them. The fact that they made it to the Big Ten Championship and were competing, unfortunately they weren’t able to pull it out but I was just so proud of them to continue to push and grind through the season, and just keep working. It was great to see them there, a great opportunity. I heard the turnout from Northwestern was fantastic. They set the standard now, and we hope to just keep going back every year.

The Daily: Jumping back to the Giants, what are your own personal goals ahead of this season?

Dickerson: Continue to show out. Just continue to show them that I deserve to be a part of the team, continue to work hard, continue to embrace my role, and do everything that they need me to do. Just continue to love the opportunity (and) do my thing.

Email: ellabrockway@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @ellabrockway

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