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The Name Game

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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In a world where who you know can often be the determining factor, who he is remains Dundee Dilworth's brightest badge.

He is part of our family and there is nobody we trust more.
~Yolanda Ramsey

It's only fitting that a man named Dundee Dilworth has a little personality and charm. Anything less, quite frankly, would be disappointing. A middle-aged man with a build that still reflects his military background, Dilworth is a firm-handshake in gym shorts and a ball cap. He's the type that smiles wide, but stares deep. He's the type whose word is his bond. At 6'2'', his stories stand taller than his silhouette. 

The founder of deep south Georgia's Explosive Sports Training, Dilworth has a reach that carries like a long and winding river. Correspondingly, his influences can be found all across the country. Dilworth works largely behind the scenes, but, on the most powerful high school and college campuses around, he is a well-established brand. In a world where who you know can often be the determining factor, who he is remains Dilworth's brightest bade. With proteges throughout the SEC and the NFL, Dilworth is a phone call away from almost any athlete or administrator. He's closer than that to his most important client.

"When I first started playing volleyball I was really bad," explained Savannah State sophomore outside hitter Justice Dilworth. "My dad, he coaches all these guys and makes everyone better at what they do. We couldn't have me back there being bad at volleyball."

A prominent football trainer, daddy Dilworth took to teaching the popular Olympic sport and still does to this day. His approach is completely hands on. Using a wide array of resources, including the family's trademark trait, persistence, father and daughter worked together towards a very important goal. The end result was a college scholarship and a special bond.     

"We went out in the yard everyday and just practiced volleyball. We made a makeshift net in the backyard and worked everyday," Justice continued.

That athletic transformation was a multi-faceted one. In addition to proper fundamentals and technique, time and circumstance helped cultivate a growing girl's powerful perspective. Even while dad was teaching others, his daughter was still taking notes.

"Going to the combines, I saw the intensity of the guys competing against each other. That impacted the way I played," she acknowledged. "I wasn't all girly about things because I had always been around guys because of my dad."

For decades now, Dilworth has committed his life to the betterment of young people. That assisted-progression has carried over, like life after expired eligibility, right into the real world. From a very young age, Dilworth teaches his players the importance of personal responsibility and self-sufficiency. That value, in his eyes, cannot be overstated.

In an area known for swamps and soft sand, Dilworth uses sports to keep student-athletes close to shore.  

A self-proclaimed "country boy" born in nearby Fernandina Beach and raised just across the state border, Travis Taylor was introduced to Dilworth as a grade-schooler in pop-warner. The two formed a bond, with Dilworth offering the young standout both training and advice as his life became more complex. Taylor, with Dilworth's help, went on from Camden County High School to Ribault High School in Jacksonville. A star wide receiver, Taylor earned SuperPrep All-American honors and a full ride to the University of Florida.

After a subtle push in the right direction, Taylor was officially off and running. He became a team captain for the Gators his junior year, earned the Orange Bowl MVP award in 1999 and was selected tenth overall in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft. In just his rookie year, Taylor caught 28 passes for the Super Bowl XXXV champion Baltimore Ravens. He played nine NFL seasons, catching 312 passes for 4,017 yards and 22 touchdowns. Before, during and after the fame, Dilworth was always there.

"Dundee has been in my life since I was 12 or 13 years old. He has basically been a big-brother to me and kind of raised me on the football field and the basketball court," Taylor detailed. "He has been a huge part of the community as far as coaching kids and I know that he has affected so many of them in a positive way. He has definitely been a blessing to me and to a lot of kids in Camden County."

The relationship has come full circle. From working together as teacher and student, Dilworth and Taylor now stand side-by-side as camp coaches. Dilworth's Explosive Sports Training has teamed with SouthernPigskin.com and ESPN Radio stations based in Brunswick, Savannah and Waycross to bring on-and-off field instruction and a mainstream recruiting platform to players in the region. With Dilworth's oversight, Taylor leads a coaching staff of former college and professional players focused on the big picture.

"This is a great opportunity for young players to learn from guys with invaluable experience," Taylor concluded. "The raw talent level out there is unbelievable. If you can improve your fundamentals early in your career, it can really give you a leg up on the competition. Learning from the best and competing against the best can only make you better."

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Dilworth's individual specialty is quarterback development. He has been the exclusive personal trainer for Georgia redshirt freshman signal caller Brice Ramsey, ranked as the nation's 7th best at his position by ESPN and Scout coming out of high school. Among Dilworth's current students is De'Andre Johnson, a consensus four-star quarterback from Jacksonville's First Coast High School. He is committed to defending national champion Florida State.     

The goals shared aren't just those measured ten yards at a time.
   
"We have known Dundee since Brice started playing rec ball in 7th grade for him. He has traveled everywhere with us, from colleges to camps in California. We couldn't have done it without his guidance," Brice's mother Yolanda Ramsey stated. "He is part of our family and there is nobody we trust more."

You may not know the name, a hotel receptionist once didn't believe it, but the influence of Dundee Dilworth is one you have seen. His work can be found in the confidence of many young men and women, the success of teenagers following his lead. Even in today's age of hype and gratification, this is a coach who continues to build from the ground on up. That foundation has long been a simple introduction.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports