But has responded the right way
When offensive coordinator Tony Elliott got a phone call from Travis Etienne a few days after the national championship game in January and found out about his star running back’s decision to return to Clemson for his senior season, Elliott was actually in a room with Lyn-J Dixon having a one-on-one meeting with the rising junior back.
“It was kind of awkward because I was talking to Lyn-J – and I didn’t know what Travis was going to do – and then he called me, and that’s when he told me right there,” Elliott said this week. “I let Lyn-J know and said you’ve just got to make a decision.”
Prior to that phone call, Dixon had been preparing to assume the role of Clemson’s starting running back for his upcoming junior season, as he — like many others — expected Etienne to forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the 2020 NFL Draft.
So when Dixon learned of Etienne’s decision to come back, he was surprised and naturally a little bit disappointed knowing he would have to back up Clemson’s all-time leading rusher for another year.
However, according to Elliott, Dixon has responded to the situation in a positive way.
“His reaction was, I think he was hopeful in a way, but not in a bad way. It’s nothing personal to Travis. They’ve got a great relationship, but he was kind of hopeful that Travis was going to move on so that he could naturally step into that,” Elliott said.
“But we were getting on the same page (during the meeting) about what my expectations are for him, where he is as a junior. He’s no longer a sophomore, and expect how he’s going to conduct himself on and off the field and really just kind of getting on the same page. So, I think he was taken aback, but then after he walked out and thought about it, he came back the next day with a smile on his face, ready to go.”
As a sophomore in 2019, Dixon rushed for 635 yards and six touchdowns on 104 carries (6.11 yards per attempt) while also catching 14 passes for 121 yards in 283 snaps over 15 games.
The Butler, Ga., native enters his junior season with 1,182 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 166 career carries and currently ranks second in school history in yards per carry (7.12) behind only Etienne.
With Etienne returning to Clemson, Dixon could have easily decided to transfer to another school where he would be “the guy” and have more opportunities to play.
But instead of leaving, Dixon chose to stick it out, put his head down and go to work, and for that Elliott is very proud of him.
“The easiest thing to do would be pack up his bags and move on, but he decided you know what, I’m going to step back, I’m going to mature and grow and see it as an opportunity to play with a pro, to learn how to prepare like a pro and just really take advantage of his opportunity. Not worry so much about the quantity of the reps that I get, but just focus on the quality,” Elliott said.
“So, really proud of seeing his maturity as he’s gone through the spring, and he’s had a different mindset, different look in his eye. He’s really ready to go challenge and compete.”
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