Missing football due to academics was humbling experience for Dixon

Marcques Dixon wasn't sure in 2008 if he would have an opportunity to play college football.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound athlete from Southwest DeKalb High School in Decatur, Ga., sat out that football season because of academics.

Dixon returned to the field as a senior and regained the form that allowed him to start as a sophomore at Southwest DeKalb.

That performance led to Dixon signing a national letter of intent with Tennessee on Wednesday.

Dixon said that year away from football allowed him to find the right priorities for his future.

"My parents sat me down and told me I need to refocus myself and find out what was really No. 1," Dixon said. "It wasn't all about football."

It was about balancing life on and off the football field.

Dixon said he wouldn't be ready to move on to college if it weren't for his year away from football in 2008.

"I actually realized there's more to life than just football," he said. "It brought me back down to Earth and got my mind right. It was a very humbling experience for me."

That didn't take away Dixon's confidence on the field.

Dixon said his mental toughness will give him an advantage as he enters the SEC.

"You have to have confidence," he said. "You can't go out there second guessing yourself and your abilities.

"I have the utmost confidence in myself and in my teammates. I'm going to do a lot of trash talking and I know I'm going to back it up."

Lofty Praise: Eddrick Loften was an important piece to UT's 2010 class.

The 6-0, 200-pound safety from Nimitz High in Irving, Texas, signed with the Vols after originally committed to Oklahoma.

Loften fills a position of need for UT, which has to replace departing junior defensive backs Eric Berry and Dennis Rogan.

Nimitz coach Steven Hohenberger said he expects Loften to make an early contribution to UT's defense.

"I cannot believe that there's a better safety that signed (Wednesday) at any school," Hohenberger said on The Sports Animal. "I can see him playing early."

Loften did that at Nimitz. He was a starter and the team's best player as a freshman, according to Hohenberger.

Hohenberger said Loften is also the best defensive back he's ever coached. That group includes Oakland Raiders safety Michael Huff, who won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back at Texas in 2005.

Hohenberger said Loften is a better prospect than Huff was when he left Nimitz for Texas in 2002.

"It's not even close," Hohenberger said.

Soft Sale: Calhoun (Ga.) High quarterback Nash Nance insisted he didn't push teammate Da'Rick Rogers to sign with UT.

Nance committed to the Vols last week. Rogers, who originally committed to Georgia, waited until Wednesday to announce for UT.

Nance said his recruitment of Rogers, one of the nation's most highly touted receivers, was light.

"I just told him, 'I'd love to have you at Tennessee but I want you to make your own decision for yourself, and I want you to do what's best for you,' " Nance said on The Sports Page.

What's best for Rogers turned out to be good for Nance, too.

"I'm glad he picked Tennessee," Nance said.

Not Snowed Over: UT head coach Derek Dooley just smiled about the effect the snowy weather had on UT's recruiting. The Vols had some trouble hosting official visitors last weekend when snow accumulated, making roads difficult to navigate.

"Ya'll made a bigger issue about it than me," Dooley said to the media. "I didn't think it was that big of a deal. It snowed. Guys came in late. It isn't because our program stinks.

"It was happening all over the South. If a guy doesn't want to come here because I-75 is closed for a snowstorm, then I probably don't want him anyway because they're not choosing the college for the right reasons."

Josh Ward is a freelance contributor.

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Comments » 13

britt writes:

Glad to have em all. And to have a coach that says "yall" again

bspurlingcac#225603 writes:

Time to get to work. GBO!

VOLINTN64 writes:

Feed these young men some good vittles and get them in the weight room ASAP.Glad to hear Mr. Dixon has his priorities in line.GBO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cldvols1 writes:

in response to britt:

Glad to have em all. And to have a coach that says "yall" again

I noticed that too!lol Ahh, it's almost refreshing:) GBO

VolGrad writes:

Dooley: "If a guy doesn't want to come here because I-75 is closed for a snowstorm, then I probably don't want him anyway..."

Beautiful. No mincing of words here.

Go Vols!!!

MidTennVol writes:

"I'm going to do a lot of trash talking and I know I'm going to back it up."

I sure hope Dooley or Thompson or Nick Reviez or Savion Frazier shuts this kid up in spring practice.

BigDave486 writes:

Ya’ll, CD2 is such a breath of fresh air . . . He's doing a bang up job so far and I don't expect he will let up on the field, film rooms, or weight room. I also believe that he will lead these you men in the right direction and they will succeed on the field and the class room, as long as they follow his instructions and guidance!

Now the true test begins, hopefully all of these young men meet the academic requirements (GPA and SAT/ACT) to enter UT!

GBO

IBleedOrange71 writes:

in response to MidTennVol:

"I'm going to do a lot of trash talking and I know I'm going to back it up."

I sure hope Dooley or Thompson or Nick Reviez or Savion Frazier shuts this kid up in spring practice.

They will...just like they did Bryce Brown. How many concussions did he get in practice?

volfreak#210492 writes:

Hey KNS,

It's Y'all...... As in short for you all, not "ya-something" "ll-something"....

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to MidTennVol:

"I'm going to do a lot of trash talking and I know I'm going to back it up."

I sure hope Dooley or Thompson or Nick Reviez or Savion Frazier shuts this kid up in spring practice.

Same thing I was thinking.Let the play on the field do the talking.Show class and just keep the trap shut.

hueypilot writes:

Hey Josh. Where you from boy? Y'all is the contraction of you and all and is the plural of you. When Yankees conjugated the verb "I am" they used you for both singular and plural, so one didn't know if someone was talking to a person or a group of people. Southerners corrected this mistake so when we talk to one person we say, you. More than one it's y'all. It's an important distinction and if it helps an example would be the difference between a Northern girl and a Southern girl is a Northern girl says "you can" while a Southern girl says "y'all can." I hope this helps.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to hueypilot:

Hey Josh. Where you from boy? Y'all is the contraction of you and all and is the plural of you. When Yankees conjugated the verb "I am" they used you for both singular and plural, so one didn't know if someone was talking to a person or a group of people. Southerners corrected this mistake so when we talk to one person we say, you. More than one it's y'all. It's an important distinction and if it helps an example would be the difference between a Northern girl and a Southern girl is a Northern girl says "you can" while a Southern girl says "y'all can." I hope this helps.

Yep, true.

I grew up flinging ain't in all directions.

Ayres_Hall writes:

Wow, I don't feel dirty today.

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