Safety out of Grant plays for PSU, where his late father starred

Before every game, Portland State strong safety Aaron Dickson puts on jersey No. 26. Then he puts another jersey No. 26 over it.

Dickson, a sophomore from Grant High, wears his father's old PSU jersey under his own each time he steps on the field.

Arthur Dickson, who died in 1998 of stomach cancer, intercepted 29 passes for the Vikings from 1973 to 1976.

'His jersey fits me perfectly,' Dickson says. 'It's like my good luck charm.'

Dickson, 20, was in sixth grade when his father died.

'People called him 'A.D.,' just like they do me,' he says. 'I was 'Little A.D.' until I grew out of it.'

Dickson wore No. 20 as a star running back and cornerback at Grant. When he came to PSU in 2004, he got a linebacker's number, 53. 'But I was redshirting, so it really didn't matter,' he says. Last year, he was able to get No. 26, and 'I won't give it up.'

His dad's jersey has a retro look, with white across the shoulders and the rest Viking green. 'It's got long sleeves that I have to tape up,' he says.

People who were around Portland State in Arthur Dickson's day say Aaron looks just like him. His dad's legacy helped him decide to sign with the Vikings.

'He was a great person, a loving, caring, popular guy, and a real good athlete,' Dickson says.

By going to PSU, Dickson stays close to his family, including his mother, Dorothy, and his older brother, Aubre, a former Benson High track standout who played receiver for the Viks in 1995.

'My mom always busts her butt for me,' he says, 'and my brother stepped up and has been a father figure.'

Art Dickson also played safety at Portland State, and Aaron is steadily growing into the position, which today requires some linebacker like play.

'Our strong safety position is one of the most versatile spots on our team,' Dickson says. 'You have to be able to cover receivers, and you have to play the run inside the box.'

Dickson, 6-1 and about 215 pounds, is second string behind Beaverton High grad Jordan Senn, a junior who is in his second year as the starter.

'Jordan is a great player, definitely one of the best players on our team,' Dickson says. 'He plays extremely hard, and I'm honored to play behind him.'

Dickson played in all 11 games last season, mostly on special teams. He still gets special teams work, while playing on nickel and dime sets giving Senn an occasional break.

'I think I've matured as a player and a person, on the field and in the classroom,' he says. 'I've prided myself this year on trying to work harder than I have in the past.'

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