"The doctor told me I'd never play again," he said.
Then a junior, the star soccer player at Lakeside missed nearly the entire season after suffering a severe back injury while lifting weights.
Determined to prove that doctor wrong, Dickenson worked tirelessly to get back on the field. He did just that, playing again with his travel team, Cobb FC out of Atlanta, and then for Lakeside during the state playoffs.
The timing turned out just right.
On Wednesday afternoon, Dickenson's comeback came full circle when he signed a letter-of-intent to play at the University of Pittsburgh.
"It's hard for me to put it into words," said Dickenson, who plans to major in something math related -- accounting or actuarial science -- in college. "I just enjoy every minute I have on the field."
"I just fell in love with the city," he said of Pittsburgh. "I just love the culture there."
The Pitt coaching staff first saw Dickenson while he was playing with Cobb FC in a tournament. They decided to recruit him and two of his travel teammates, Alexander Lowman, of Douglasville, Ga., and Chukwudi Onyeukwu, of Powder Springs, Ga., and all three will be suiting up for Pitt.
Dickenson has been a four-year varsity player at Lakeside. He's scored nine goals and dished out eight assists during his career despite missing time because of injuries.
Lakeside coach Dave Morgan said Dickenson possesses a unique soccer talent. Plus, he has natural leadership qualities as the type of player everybody likes being around.
"Physically, Julian is a very strong player," Morgan said. "Technically, he's very good with the ball. He works really hard. He's got a great work ethic."
Dickenson likely will play outside midfielder in college. He said he looks forward to competing for a starting spot as a freshman.