Ever since Urban Meyer took over the Ohio State football program in December of 2012, the Buckeyes have been able to land recruits that they wouldn't have been able to under previous coaches. Johnnie Dixon is one of many recruits who fall into that category.
We continue our class of 2014 "Bucks to the Future" series by telling the story of standout wide receiver Johnnie Dixon's recruitment, which culminated in his eventual commitment to the Buckeyes.
Weight: 187 pounds
247Composite: 9th best wide receiver in the country, 13th best player from the state of Florida, and 76th overall player in the 2014 class.
High School: Dwyer, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Dixon's recruitment kicked off in a big way following a sophomore season where he caught 18 passes for 433 yards to go along with four touchdowns, then followed that up with a strong junior season where he grabbed 33 balls for 610 yards and six scores. He was able to parlay those results into offers from the likes of Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, and others.
The Ohio State coaching staff extended him a scholarship offer in the spring of 2012. I remember chatting with him shortly after he received the offer from the Scarlet and Gray and while he seemed mildly interested in the Bucks, I was pretty convinced he was going to stay in the state of Florida to play his college football (or at the very least stay south).
"It's a great school, great football program, and one of the best places to play all around," Dixon told me shortly after receiving his Buckeyes offer. "Urban Meyer is a really good coach, I really like him."
"I would like to visit, but I'm not sure if I will," he said. "I'll probably figure out some visits in the next couple of months, but visiting Ohio State is a possibility."
Ohio State scored a big win in his recruitment when they got him on campus for the first time for the June 21 one-day football camp. Dixon really enjoyed his first time in Columbus, saying he had a "great" visit and would likely be back for an official visit to watch the Bucks take on the Wisconsin Badgers in September.
Following an appearance at the summer's two most prestigious football camps, the Rivals 100 Challenge and Nike's The Opening 2013 in June and July respectively, and after taking visits to Alabama and in-state Miami to close out his summer visit tour, it was time for his senior season, and also time to take his last round of college visits before making a final decision about where he'd be spending three to five years in school.
WR Johnnie Dixon https://t.co/WVI9ya5hrx— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) July 1, 2013
40 times at The Opening: Travis Rudolph 4.52. Johnnie Dixon 4.53.— Luke Stampini (@LukeStampini) July 1, 2013
First came a trip to Raleigh, North Carolina for a look at the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Then he took an official visit to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to give the Razorbacks and head coach Bret Bielema one final look.
Visit number three was the big one to Ohio State to watch the Buckeyes take on Wisconsin under the lights. This marked his first gameday experience at Ohio Stadium, something he was very excited to take in. Dixon also had very strong relationships with the Buckeye coaching staff heading into the visit, specifically head coach Urban Meyer and wide receivers coach Zach Smith. As the visit approached, he said all schools were even and he liked "everything" about Ohio State.
"(I talk to the Ohio State coaches) every week," Dixon told me going into his official visit. "(I talk to) coach Smith and coach Meyer. We talk about life and the opportunity I have."
"I've already been there (to Columbus), Dixon said. "I just have to see the team play now."
Following a very productive trip to Columbus to watch the Buckeyes beat the Badgers in a pretty close game, Dixon made an unofficial visit to watch in-state Miami knock off the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets by a score of 45-30. Then came his big official visit to Tuscaloosa, where he witnessed the Crimson Tide, who have been college football's most dominant team over the past couple of years. It was there he saw Alabama rip rival LSU to shreds by the final tally of 38-17.
Around this time, I started to hear some rumblings that the Buckeyes were a very strong player for Dixon's recruitment, despite many thinking he was going to be staying in the state of Florida to play for the Hurricanes. His last trip before announcing his decision was to Coral Gables, in order to give the Hurricanes one last look before ultimately making his decision.
Days after his visit to see "The U", he held an in-home visit with Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, which pretty much sealed the deal for the Buckeyes in his recruitment. But Dixon wasn't ready to go public because he was just days away from playing in his final high school game – The Florida Class 7A State Championship against Niceville.
Prior to the game, it became pretty clear where Dixon would be attending school, as he trotted out for warming wearing an Ohio State hat. He followed that by helping his team to a state tittle victory, where he caught five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown in a 55-39 triumph over Niceville. He was finally ready to make his college decision known to the world.
On Tuesday, Dec. 17, just a day after the Buckeyes scored a commitment from five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan, Dixon announced he would attending Ohio State and enrolling in classes for the Spring Semester, essentially ending his recruitment. He had the following to say following his commitment:
"I just feel it's the best place for me, I mean to grow up without having to be home, you just gotta get away a little and live your life," Dixon said immediately after committing. "Yeah, like I said, it's going to be the best place for me, the best place for me to grow up, my mom can come up whenever she has the time to, but (I) just have to get away."
"He said I just made him the happiest man in the world," Dixon told ESPN 760 in an interview after committing. "I mean, I just told him, now we gotta go win some National Championships."
"I realized I didn't want to be home anymore, I mean you gotta explore the world, there's more things out there than always being home," Dixon told reporters at a press conference follow his commitment.
I'm a buckeye!!! Thanks to everyone for the support...!— Johnnie Dixon (@JDStandAlone) December 17, 2013
You can watch his commitment ceremony and post-commitment interview, courtesy of ESPN 760 below:
The final stop of his illustrious high school football career was in San Antonio, Texas, where he participated in the annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl, making a couple of particularly impressive catches. He also got to form bonds with some of his future Buckeye teammates.
Just a couple of weeks after the Army game, Dixon moved to Columbus to start classes at Ohio State. Due to enrolling early, he will be able to reap the benefits of working in Ohio State's rigorous offseason conditioning program with legendary strength coach Mickey Marotti and will also be a participant in spring practices and the subsequent spring game. McMillan's roommate is none other than Raekwon McMillan, who as mentioned before, committed to the Bucks the day before Dixon.
Right before leaving for Columbus, Dixon told Land-Grant Holy Land that his top recruiting memory was, "committing to my school and becoming a Buckeye."
Ohio State is getting a very good football player and an even better young man in Dixon.
Ohio State is bringing in five potential receivers in the 2014 class: Dixon, Noah Brown, Parris Campbell, Curtis Samuel, and Terry McLaruin. Dixon is easily the most college-ready of this group as he brings solid speed, excellent route-running abilities, and good hands to the table.
I think Dixon will see the field in the 2014 season, but the question that remains is how much. He will have to battle Evan Spencer, Michael Thomas, Corey Smith, Jalin Marshall, Jeff Greene, the aforementioned group of freshmen, and others for playing time. It will be interesting to see who had the upper hand in the race for playing time at the wide receiver position following spring practice.
Dixon projects to have a very strong future in Columbus, most likely lining up outside, and will have a leg up on a lot of the incoming freshmen as he's already enrolled and working out with the football team.
Obligatory GIF, Highlights
Stephen Collier is not the only early enrollee, who was named homecoming king. He is joined by his new teammate, Johnnie Dixon.
- Bucks to the Future: Raekwon McMillan
- National Signing Day 2014: The vocal minority
- Ohio State recruiting: State Secrets, 2/4 - Jamarco Jones, Malik McDowell updates
- Catching up w/ Jamarco Jones' coach on Ohio State, Michigan State decision
- Malik McDowell's father: "I want him out of Michigan...Ohio State or Florida State"