In August, West Bloomfield’s Lance Dixon was preparing for his junior season and a new position.
As a sophomore, Dixon was a safety, and although he still had the speed to play there, it seemed like just a matter of time before his 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame began to look more like a linebacker’s body, so after speaking with his head coach, Ron Bellamy, he embraced the change.
At that time, several schools made him scholarship offers on the strength of his athleticism, size, and potential, but some of the more prominent programs in the region wanted to see how Dixon would handle being closer to the line of scrimmage this season.
Fast forward three months and Dixon just led his team in tackles in the state title game, and now has offers from several Big Ten schools. Michigan became the latest on Tuesday, joining Purdue, Penn State, and Michigan State.
“He grew tremendously,” Bellamy said. “It’s a little different than safety because you have offensive linemen blocking you, but once he got the gist of it and realized he was just as strong as some of those linemen and more athletic, he started growing and developing at a fast rate. The later part of the year, he was begging to play inside linebacker, our Willie linebacker spot, we granted that wish and he blossomed. He had a fabulous year.”
There were times where Dixon still moved to the slot and was asked to cover wide receivers, and he did it better than most kids his size would.
“He’s a playmaker,” Bellamy said. “He’s a guy that allows you, as a defensive coordinator, to stay in base personnel and not go to a Nickel and play an extra defensive back. He can cover slot receivers, cover tight ends, he’s versatile and can blitz off the edge and can be very stout against the run.”
For Michigan, the offer was extended for the Viper position, played by Jabrill Peppers a year ago and by Khaleke Hudson this year. Both of those players have shown what a disruptive position can be if manned by the right type of athlete.
“Don Brown stopped by today, sat down and talked with me about Lance and the things he saw on film,” said Bellamy, who played wide receiver for the Wolverines. “He wanted me to be straight up with him and I let him know what I thought about Lance and that matched what he saw on film. He’s a great fit for Michigan. He plays the Viper and that’s a very popular linebacker position now in this age.”
The Wolverines now figure to battle the Spartans and Nittany Lions for Dixon, but other programs who have not offered, including Notre Dame and Wisconsin, where two his senior teammates are headed, could also be in the picture should they offer.
Dixon admitted Michigan was an offer he has waited for, but at this point, he still has much to see and hear before he is ready to make any decisions.
“Right now, he’s just relaxing,” Bellamy said. “We just finished playing football so he wants to get caught up in recruiting, get back to some coaches that reached out to him, develop those relationships. He and his family want to do some traveling, go to junior days, get on some campuses, shake some hands and make a decision next year around this time.”
Dixon was an honorable mention all-state selection this season.
Experts project UM landing Georgia TE
The 247Sports Crystal Ball, which features predictions from recruiting analysts on where recruits will commit, has recently seen a number of entries logged for Michigan and Norcross (Ga.) Wesleyan tight end Tommy Tremble.
Notre Dame still holds a lead of 67 percent to 27 percent for Michigan and 7 percent for Georgia, but in the wake of his visit to Ann Arbor last weekend, the Wolverines have had the highest number of new predictions.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound prospect told 247Sports Director of Recruiting Steve Wiltfong after his trip that Michigan “looks like the perfect place for me.”
Wolverines offer explosive sophomore
Michigan offered St. Louis Trinity Catholic sophomore running back Teriyon “Mookie” Cooper on Saturday when he visited Ann Arbor.
Cooper, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound prospect, now adds that offer to his collection, which also includes Ohio State, Auburn and Penn State.
Michigan is recruiting several of his junior teammates, namely quarterback/athlete Isaiah Williams, and wide receiver Marcus Washington. Both visited on Saturday along with Cooper.
Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.