Former South Carolina linebacker Gerald Dixon admits he is about to cause the Southeastern Conference a lot of confusion.
Dixon, who played for the Gamecocks in 1990-91 before a 10-year NFL career with Cleveland, Cincinnati and San Diego, has two sons in Rock Hill, S.C., who are five months apart in age. One is a 6-foot-3, 280-pound defensive tackle named Gerald, while the other is a 6-2, 260-pound defensive end named Gerald.
Earlier this month, the two Gerald Dixon prospects decided to follow in their father's footsteps by committing to the Gamecocks.
"I could see where this could get difficult," a laughing Gerald Sr. said of the situation. "It's like the old Bob Newhart show when Larry would say, 'This is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.' It's just going to be one of those things, but I think they will distinguish themselves by the way they play."
The older of the two, the defensive tackle, goes by Gerald Jr. The younger goes by Gerald Gervaris.
They have been distinguished among family members as "Big G" and "Li'l G," but they have attended separate schools in Rock Hill, and each is called "Big G" by classmates.
"When we visited South Carolina for games, people were calling us G-squared or the Dixon boys," Gerald Jr. said. "I think it could be tough for the fans, but we'll probably wind up with new nicknames."
The Dixon half-brothers live with their mothers during the week, about two miles apart, and with Gerald Sr. on weekends. Gerald Jr. attends Northwestern High and Gerald Gervaris is at South Pointe, so the two had not played on the same team for seven years until last month, when they were on South Carolina's roster for the Shrine Bowl in Spartanburg.
Their previous stint as teammates occurred in a pee-wee league in 2003, when Gerald Sr. was their coach.
"Gerald Jr. is the more physical, power guy, and Gerald Gervaris has more quickness and is built more like I was," Gerald Sr. said. "He can play the defensive end position, but he could play down in the trenches."
Both Dixons are rated three-star prospects by Rivals.com after Gerald Jr. amassed 100 tackles and 10 sacks this past season and Gerald Gervaris tallied 132 tackles and 19.5 sacks. Gerald Gervaris is listed as the nation's No. 23 weakside defensive end and played the end spot opposite Jadeveon Clowney, who is rated as the nation's top overall prospect and is expected to choose between South Carolina and Alabama, where he is visiting this weekend.
Gerald Sr. is optimistic the Gamecocks can land Clowney, who he said will dominate wherever he goes.
The fact his sons have the same opportunity to display their talents in Columbia the way he once did pleases Gerald Sr., who led the '91 Gamecocks in sacks before getting selected by Cleveland in the third round of the '92 NFL draft. Amazingly, he can remember his boys fighting only once, albeit an apparent doozie.
"It was my birthday, and I wanted to play one of my video games and he wanted to play his," Gerald Jr. said. "I threw his game at him and he pushed me, so we started fighting. We were in elementary school, but we still talk about it."
Gerald Sr. said one of the mothers called frantically during the altercation and that his response was "boys will be boys, and this is something they will go through."
As for having two sons named Gerald, the proud father said there are no regrets. After all, it's not as confusing as former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman, who named five sons George.
"At that time, the mothers that I had the kids by wanted to name the kids Gerald," he said. "That was the name they were going to stick with. The first one was Gerald Jr. and the second was Gerald Gervaris, so we kept it simple like that.
"They're great kids, and they've lived up to the name so far."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.