January 7, 2010

Dixon has SEC top 3; are Vols there?

SAN ANTONIO - Tenuous, at best, would best describe the commitment of Ahmad Dixon to Baylor's football program.

The four-star safety and U.S. Army All-American Bowl participant said here this week that he's got a top three made up entirely of Southeastern Conference schools and doesn't expect to ink with the Bears.

Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee were a firm top three when the Waco,Texas, standout spoke with reporters.

"In no specific order, Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee," Dixon said. "Those would be my top three right now."

Dixon, who could declare Saturday but also has planned more visits, outlined what he viewed as strengths of each program:

Alabama - "Alabama has been recruiting me a long time, and the head coach is coaching defensive backs. That's like a dream come true. And then I like the city. I just like being in Alabama."

Auburn - "The same. I like their coaches as well. I've known about coach (Gene) Chizik since he was defensive coordinator at Texas."

Tennessee - "I like what Lane Kiffin and Monte Kiffin are doing with the offense and defense. Monte Kiffin, he's a guru. I hear about him a lot because one of my coaches played for him at Tampa Bay back in the day."

Dixon once again indicated he intended to return to Knoxville with his parents. He raved about his first visit to UT.

"I'm going to make time for that (return trip)," said Dixon, who also will visit Alabama and Auburn this month. "My parents weren't able to visit. I want them to go back up there and see the campus and meet everybody."

Dixon acknowledged early playing time factored into the decision-making process but also maintained he recognized the need to earn any role at the next level.

"Early playing time is a factor, but I'm not afraid to wait my time if I'm being outworked, which I highly doubt will happen," he said. "I'll take the backseat role and learn from him and let him teach me some stuff (if a player beats him out)."

Shifted to cornerback this week for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Dixon at first was stunned by the move but has made the most of it. Oh, and he also has a warning for anyone who might think he won't hit like a safety on Saturday.

"I haven't been doing as well as I expected, but it's been a good experience," said Dixon, who notched a pick during Wednesday's skills challenge. "My cover skills, to me, I feel like they have gotten a little bit better just from me playing corner these last few days. …

"One of the guys here was saying I have good hips, quick hips and nice footwork."

But Dixon, who ignored the recruiting pitches of Texas A&M and Texas Tech because they approached him about playing cornerback, is a safety at heart.

"I took it as a compliment (that he was moved to corner on short notice), but then also they (coaches here) don't think I can hit hard enough," Dixon said. "No doubt about that. If I catch somebody slipping (running a lazy route, etc.), oh man, lights out."

Yet with a wild month seemingly in store, it's anything but lights out in Dixon's recruitment.

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