The 2020 season was supposed to be Lyn-J Dixon’s year. After playing for two seasons behind Travis Etienne, he was finally supposed to get his just dues.
However, it never happened. Why?
Mostly it was because Etienne stunned everyone and decided to come back and play his senior year at Clemson. But that was not the entire reason.
Dixon welcomed Etienne’s return and used it as motivation to continue to get better. Before the pandemic hit, he was having his best spring.
He carried over his spring performance into fall camp and for the first two weeks he was one of the more consistent players for the Tigers. But Dixon’s progression took an unfortunate turn during Clemson’s second scrimmage last August.
The Butler, Ga., native suffered a knee injured that caused him to miss the rest of camp and hampered him for much of the 2020 season.
Though he eventually returned, Dixon did not trust his knee when he came back. In return, offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, then the running backs coach, did not trust Dixon. Eventually, because the junior was not always doing what the play called for him to do, Elliott sat him down for a little bit, to let him see things from the sideline.
Ultimately, it all worked out. After not getting a carry against Notre Dame in the regular season meeting, Dixon bounced back and carried the ball nine times for 46 yards and touchdown against Pittsburgh. The following week, he had three carries for 37 yards and a score at Virginia Tech.
In the Sugar Bowl, he had the longest run of the game for the Tigers, a 15-yard run, which set up a touchdown. He finished with two carries for 20 yards.
In the last three games Dixon played in, he rushed for 103 of his 190 yards in 2020, while averaging 6.9 yards per carry.
Elliott is hopeful, the confidence Dixon was able to build at the end of the year will transfer to this coming season. This past spring, Elliott liked what he saw from the 5-foot-10, 195-pound running back.
“I am just seeing more decisiveness in his cuts and trusting the system,” Elliott said. “C.J. [Spiller] is doing a good job of helping him transition.”
Dixon had a 21-yard run in the spring game and averaged 6.3 yards per carry. He will likely come into fall camp No. 1 on Clemson’s depth chart.
“We know he is a perimeter runner, but what I have seen is a little bit more of a sense of urgency, squaring up his pads and trying to do the dirty things, so he can get the opportunities to get out and hit the home runs which we know he is capable of,” Elliott said.
Dixon is averaging 6.6 yards per carry in his career, which right now ranks second all-time in Clemson history behind Etienne.
Clemson will kick off the 2021 season on Sept. 4 against Georgia at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.