If there’s one thing Tony Elliott knows for sure about Clemson freshman running back Lyn-J Dixon, it’s that he’s a competitor.
“I remember him on his official visit… We’re over at Coach (Dabo) Swinney’s house, and him and Travis (Etienne) and Tavien (Feaster) are going at it one-on-one in basketball,” Elliott told The Clemson Insider at Swinney’s media golf outing earlier this week. “So, he loves to compete. He’s real low-key, low-maintenance, a real humble guy. I think he fits Clemson because he’s used to being in a small-town environment, knows how to maneuver, and so he’s going to be able to fit in well.”
Dixon, who signed with Clemson in December, will have a chance to compete with Etienne, Feaster and Adam Choice at running back when the Tigers begin fall camp in early August.
Elliott loves what the former four-star prospect brings to the table as a player. But the Clemson co-offensive coordinator is still in wait-and-see mode as far as his expectations for Dixon, who just arrived on campus in late June.
“I try not to put expectations on him at this point,” Elliott said. “I want to see how he’s going to compete, and then after we get a couple weeks into camp, I’ll see where he is and then I can start to say OK, ‘This is where I can see you at.’ But to say that he’s going to play this amount of snaps and this is what I expect, that’s unfair to him because heck, he hasn’t even been through one of my meetings yet to know what the expectation of the unit is.
“But I think he’s got a skillset that could definitely warrant using him in some situations. But we’ve just got to see if he’s prepared for that.”
Dixon showed his ability to be a dynamic playmaker during his career at Taylor County High School, rushing for more than 5,000 yards and recording 73 rushing touchdowns. He accounted for over 7,000 all-purpose yards, scored 88 total touchdowns and averaged 2.4 touchdowns per game in 37 career games.
The Butler, Ga., native was limited to six games as a senior due to an injury but still averaged 108 yards per game and 8.9 yards per rush. As a junior in 2016, he ran for 1,914 yards and 35 scores on 229 carries.
“Very athletic. Very raw,” Elliott said of Dixon. “Obviously still trying to figure it out because this is a whole different transition for him, coming from where he’s from to this environment. But so far, so good. Everybody likes his personality, and they like his ability.”
A fine receiver as well, Dixon had 76 receptions for 1,088 yards and nine scores in his career.
His competence as a pass-catcher is something Elliott feels is an underrated part of his game.
“I think so because of what he was asked to do in his system,” Elliott said. “He caught some balls, but more times than not, he was handed the ball and was able to flourish doing that. But all of our guys have got to be able to catch the ball, and any time a back can put stress on a defense coming out of the backfield catching the ball, it’s a positive.”
Perhaps the one knock on Dixon is his 5-foot-11, 175-pound size, though Elliott said he has already gotten bigger since arriving to Clemson.
“I think that he’s got to progress at his own rate, but he has put on some weight already in the couple weeks that he’s been here,” Elliott said. “Ideally, if he can carry 200 pounds, I like that number for a back — 200 pounds or more just because it gives you some added cushion to absorb the punishment that they take.”
Dixon was ranked as the No. 10 running back and No. 171 overall prospect in the country by ESPN coming out of high school. The one-time Tennessee commitment ultimately chose to play at Clemson over offers from Oklahoma State, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and others.
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