Michael Dyer: Arkansas Idol: grounded, fast senior runner ready to attack record books.
It's hard to imagine now but Little Rock Christian senior running back Michael Dyer was at one time bigger than America's newest "Idol," Kris Allen.
While Conway's Allen vaulted to national fame on the hit Fox television show "American Idol" this spring, Dyer had been making a name for himself on the football fields across the state since his freshman season in 2006 for the private school in west Little Rock.
Allen may have become all overnight singing sensation, but last season he was just another guy up in the press box filming Little Rock Christian games.
"Kris Allen is actually best friends with our line coach that goes to UCA [the University of Central Arkansas] and volunteers here," Little Rock Christian head coach Justin Kramer said. "Last year we didn't have a filmer and he filmed, like, three of our games here.
"I tell my kids ill my [physical education] class that he was probably in your way last year at the game and ya'll probably got mad at him. Now they are downtown [Little Rock during all appearance in May] ill hopes of being within 300 feet of him."
Allen's throngs started ill earnest this spring, while those who have been following Dyer--namely big-time college recruiters--have been growing since he first set foot on the campus of Louisiana State University for a football camp before his sophomore season.
"The quarterback on our team [at the time], Griffin Kuhn, called me and said do you want to come down here to the LSU camp," Dyer said. "I liked LSU at the time really good so I was just going down there to have fun.
"I ran a couple of drills. Ran my first 40 and it was a 4.37 and after that I started getting attention."
Justin Kramer has coached in various capacities at Little Rock Christian for seven years. He coached the junior high football team to three conference titles in four seasons. He directed the baseball team to a state championship game appearance and was the offensive coordinator for a Warrior squad that lost in the 2007 5A title game.
In November, Kramer succeeded Johnny Watson as head coach after Watson announced his retirement following 29 seasons of coaching.
Kramer knew that he had a good football player on his hands when Dyer started standing out in the seventh grade.
"He was better than most then," Kramer said. "I can remember a couple of times the other team would be running with the ball. He would grab the ball, take it from them and run the other way for a touchdown." Kramer laughed, recalling those seventh-grade memories: "He was like a playground bully or something."
"It's one of those deals in this profession you see kids that are considered great early and then they plateau off. I always assumed he was going to be good but the kid worked harder than anyone we've got here."
The hard work paid off two years later as Dyer was playing as a ninth-grader on the varsity team, in 2006.
"That year we were down," Kramer said. "I think we had, like, six seniors or something like that ... so it was a combination of that we thought he could do well enough to help us get by and we didn't have anybody else."
Though Dyer fumbled on his first high school carry, against Harding Academy, he has only fumbled once since, according to Kramer. Dyer went on to finish his freshman year with 901 yards rushing.
But 2007 is when Dyer exploded on the statewide scene.
He finished the season with 2,710 yards and 28 touchdowns in leading the Warriors to the 5A title game where they fell to Greenwood, 27-6.
Recruiting Heats Up
Internet message boards can be cruel and harsh sometimes, even for an adult; so one can imagine how things are for a teenager with 18 college scholarship offers in his hand trying to make a decision that will influence the rest of his life.
That's what Dyer faces on daily basis as he travels the country taking unofficial visits to some of the many schools that want his services next year.
"Well, I can't respond to them," he said with laugh about message board posters. "I actually enjoy reading some of the stuff that they say because it's just people having their say, giving their opinions about something. "That's all part of the recruiting process. I enjoy every part of it. I don't hate it. I actually laugh about it and sometimes I take what they say and put that as my Facebook status because I think it's funny."
What won't be funny will be the hearts broken among the fans of the school he doesn't choose, but Kramer says that Dyer has earned the right to make his own choice. "He's worked hard and most people don't know everything that he has gone through to get to this point," he said. "He has sacrificed a lot.
"Wherever he decides to go, it will be an intelligent decision. That's what we talk about. What's good for you? Who's a good person to coach you that doesn't just care about you carrying the ball but cares about you, Michael the human? I think he'll make an intelligent decision."
Dyer said that he hopes to have his decision made before the start of the football season on where he will go to college, but that it probably wouldn't take place until the students are back on campus for the start of the new school year.
But he'll answer when asked for any hints on where he might go: "I'll give you a few schools that are in the running for it. Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Stanford, one of those would be it."
Dyer deems it a dream to be involved in the recruiting process and to have the chance to play college football.
Kramer said, "Most people will look at him and say he's a great running back. Well, yeah. You don't have to be intelligent to see that. But he's got a lot of character, doesn't get in trouble. He's got a 3.5 grade-point average.
"He's going to be successful, and everyone measures that differently. I told him the other day he's going to change his family history because of the self-discipline that he has. His kids will never deal with the stuff that he dealt with and that's amazing to me because he can run a football."
Kramer credit's Dyer's uncle, Andre, a Little Rock police officer and a former football player at the University of Central Arkansas, for being a steadying influence on Dyer.
"His uncle is the best thing that has ever happened to him in my opinion," Kramer said. "He's an exceptional person. Michael, for so long, everything was inconsistent [in his life]. His uncle came in, brought some stability and has been a great role model."
Dyer has leaned heavily on his uncle for advice.
"He is very important because he's been through it," he said. "He gives me advice here and there and tries to show me the right way to do things, the right way to be a man."
'Do or Dyer"
KATV, Channel 7 sports anchor Steve Sullivan has been providing nicknames on his broadcasts for years to some of the state's top prep football players.
His moniker for Dyer: "Michael Do or Dyer."
"That's always funny," the 5-foot-9 all-stater said.
But it is almost appropriate for this season as Dyer enters his final campaign in a Warriors uniform. He currently sits in seventh place on the state's all-time career rushing list with 5,595 yards but only needs 1,528 to pass Vernon Hicks as the all-time leader.
"That's just a personal goal I want to accomplish," Dyer said, "but I really want to get back to the state championship game and win it."
This will be Dyer's last crack at a state crown, and even if Little Rock Christian wins the 5A title, Kramer said it wouldn't be Dyer winning the state title but the Warriors winning the crown.
"He'd be the first person to tell you that," Kramer said.
But he admitted too that Dyer would be a very big part of it.
"I just call the plays," Kramer said. "We don't have any that involve 'Here's what you are going to do, you are going to go right; you are going to stiff this arm this guy, throw him to the ground; spin three times and then run for a touchdown.' That's not in the playbook. "I'm just thankful for the opportunity to get to coach him."
THE DYER FILE Michael Dyer Height 5-9 Weight 210 School Little Rock Christian Class Senior Rushing Yardage Year Games Att. Yards Avg. TD 2008 10 131 901 6.9 6 2007 14 279 2,710 9.7 28 2008 11 242 1,984 8.2 19 Totals 35 652 5,595 8.9 53 Notes: Electronic Arts National Sophomore of the Year in 20007 ... ArkansasSports360.com All-Arkansas First Team running back in 2008 ... Holds 18 scholarship offers, including Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee and Ole Miss of the SEC ... Ranked by recruiting service Rivals.com as the nations' No. 3 running back and the nation's No. 11 overall prospect ... Rushed for 389 yards, the eighth highest total in the state's history according the Arkansas Activities Association record book, in a 2007 playoff victory over Vilonia ... His 2,710 rushing yards in 2007 was the sixth highest total in state history ... Needs 1,528 yards to become the state's all-time career rushing leader. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]