Mark Richt weighs in on how recent losses have affected recruiting
There was a time John Dixon looked like he would have his choice of just about any college he wanted. In May, Dixon put out a top-five list including the Miami Hurricanes, Alabama Crimson Tide, South Carolina Gamecocks, Ohio State Buckeyes and Penn State Nittany Lions. He was a four-star prospect in the 247Sports.com rankings and his speed, in particular, made him a fascinating prospect to teams all across the country.
The seven months since haven’t been quite as smooth for Dixon, who tore his patella playing basketball in the winter. The Tampa Chamberlain cornerback has slipped to three-star status in the 247Sports composite rankings, and his list of prime suitors has changed. Miami and South Carolina are still interested, but the West Virginia Mountaineers have entered the picture, too. Whichever of the three lands Dixon’s signature will bring in a prospect with serious upside if he can return to full health.
“He’s definitely on the radar with a lot of schools,” Chamberlain coach Jason Lane said earlier this week. “I think dealing with what he’s dealt with, he’s just trying to take his time and make the right decision and find the best fit.”
Now Dixon is getting ready to shut things down. The 6-foot, 170-pound defensive back took a final unofficial visit with the Gamecocks last weekend — he officially visited Columbia in June — and has two more official visits lined up for the next two weekends. This weekend, Dixon will make his way to Coral Gables for an official visit with the Hurricanes before he closes out his recruitment with a trip to West Virginia just ahead of the three-day early signing period. On Wednesday, Dixon announced he will commit and sign Dec. 19 — the day the early signing period begins.
For a long time, South Carolina has seemed like the favorite. The Gamecocks hosted Dixon’s only spring official visit and have recruited Dixon longer than anyone. South Carolina was the first school to offer Dixon in 2016, and Dixon said he has a stronger relationship with Gamecocks defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson than any other coach.
At one point, Lane said he felt Dixon signing with South Carolina in the early signing period was essentially a done deal. Instead, the athlete has reopened his mind.
“In the beginning there was a lot of discussion with whether he was going to early sign, and I think it was discussing South Carolina, but as time has gone on I’m just not sure if that is still his plan,” Lane said. “As much as the schools are watching these kids and trying to see what decisions they’re making, the kids are also looking at the schools and seeing how many are being recruited at each position, so I think John’s just trying to be vigilant.”
Miami’s pitch has come from a handful of angles. While Dixon said he was never interested in the Florida State Seminoles or Florida Gators, the Hurricanes intrigued Dixon enough to get him on campus for junior day in March. Dixon liked the visit enough to return for Paradise Camp in July, even though he was still recovering from his injury. Cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph made a quick impression on Dixon, who has also played some wide receiver in his high school career.
Over on the other coast, Tyriq McCord is part of the pitch, too. The former Miami defensive lineman played for Lane and Tampa Jefferson and worked as an assistant coach on Lane’s staff in the spring before he returned to school in the fall to finish his degree.
With McCord there to make the case for the Hurricanes, Miami has a chance to pick up some late momentum in Dixon’s recruitment. The visits, Lane said, are always what have stood out to Dixon, so this weekend will be crucial.
“I know he loved the visits,” Lane said. “John spoke highly of visiting Miami and he thinks the world of the education.”