August 2, 2008

Dixon sets his goals high

Throughout his career, Anthony Dixon has had a knack for chewing up yards and scoring touchdowns.

But this season, the ever-confident junior wants even more. Dixon has his sights set on being one of the premier running backs in the nation.

"I think I can be (one of the top backs in the country)," Dixon said. "I work too hard and practice too hard to settle for anything less. I know there is stuff I have to work on but I'm going to try to get there."

Head coach Sylvester Croom believes Dixon has all the ability to be a standout back but has shown a lack of enthusiasm in some of his study habits in years past.

"Anthony loves to play the game," Croom said. "A lot of things come very natural to him. He's never approached it with the businesslike fashion that I think he needs to approach it in order to get better. The great players are the ones that have the natural ability but are also the ones that combine that with a work ethic and a study habit that a lesser player would have to have to play."

Dixon says he has taken the initiative to study more film in the offseason trying to take the steps necessary to improve his already impressive resume.

"I've got motivation to be the No. 1 guy everywhere," Dixon said. "Right now, I am just the No. 1 guy here. I want to be the No. 1 guy in the league this year and I know to do that I have to work on reads. Now I'm in the film room trying to read that more so I can produce more."

Dixon has played in all 25 games of his Bulldog career earning 17 starts while rushing for 1,734 yards and 23 touchdowns. He amassed 1,066 yards on the ground and found the end zone 14 times during his sophomore campaign last season. In two years, Dixon has already climbed to fifth on the school's all-time touchdown list.

But Croom, a former NFL running backs coach, believes the best is yet to come for the Terry native.

"He's on course," Croom said. "It usually takes a running back that long to get a feel for blocking schemes and those things. I think this year he understands that he has to be more aware of that. His ability to run isn't going to change. It's his ability to see things and anticipate them before the actually happen is what he has to get better at."

One fear was silenced Saturday as Dixon reported to camp at a self-admitted 239-pounds, six-pounds shy of what he reported at last August. Dixon said a change in his diet has helped keep off those unwanted pounds.

"I really just focused on stopping eating all the bad stuff, all the cookies and stuff," Dixon said. "I'm just trying to eat right and get my stomach right for this year so I can be able to run more. I feel quicker and a little faster."

With Dixon entering camp one pound lighter than his playing weight and the scorching Starkville weather ahead leaves Croom believing a trimmer No. 24 will be showing up on Saturdays this fall.

"He'll continue to lose more as time goes on," Croom said. "He'll be lighter on game day than he has been in the past."

Croom feels that if Dixon does all the little things right, it will lead to plenty of big plays for the Bulldog offense this season.

"The better he runs, the better our passing game is going to be," Croom said. "If his steps are right, keys are right, reads are right, he understands the blocking schemes better, timing is right, hits the hole at the precise time, he's going to gain more yards. It's all that little stuff."

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