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clemson dixon

Clemson's Lyn-J Dixon rushes while defended by Duke's Ben Humphreys during the second half on Nov. 17, 2018, in Clemson.

CLEMSON — Lyn-J Dixon burst onto the scene last season as the Clemson running back of the future.

Dixon set a school record, among qualified players, averaging 8.82 yards per carry. As a true freshman, he scored five rushing touchdowns, three of which covered at least 50 yards. Dixon tied for eighth in the country in carries of 50-plus yards (four), and he reached that ranking on only 62 carries while all other members of the top 10 recorded at least 125 attempts.

After being thrown into the fire last season — as a summer enrollee — Dixon believes he has grown through the spring season.

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“Last year I came in late. I was in the midyear, so it kind of ... a lot on me, but I kind of processed it through the year,” Dixon said. “But now since I had this spring, it kind of is coming in like it be ... it's like mostly with me, where like, ‘This is easy.’”

Even after setting a school record during his freshman campaign, Dixon found himself observing from the sidelines as the Tigers completed their undefeated season with a 44-16 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide.

That experience -- seeing the likes of Travis Etienne, Tavien Feaster and former Tiger Adam Choice -- is motivating Dixon to make sure the Tigers make it back to the championship this season.

“Being on the sidelines, seeing the atmosphere and seeing how intense it can be, it really motivates me to get back to that stage so I can be able to play, and just show what I can do on the big stage,” Dixon said. “You really just got to keep your focus and always be on the sideline, like you're going to get in, and train your mind like you're going to get in, be ready at any moment, because you never know when your name will be called. So I always just train my mind just to be ready for that moment to come.”

But if Dixon is going to have the opportunity to play on the biggest stage in college football, he still has work to do on the little things — like how he holds the football and his blocking techniques.

“(Co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tony Elliott has) been preaching on for me to start running low and to stop running so high and to lower my back when I'm running through the tackles, so I'm going to start working on that during this summer, just to get better at that,” Dixon said. “Pretty much just stay off my tippy toes and stay lower to the ground and start staying on my arms, because I got long arms, and I got to use that to my advantage.

“I would say just my overall game, just to get it better. Never settle for less, so I'm just going to keep working and kind of grind and pulling myself and getting better to what I used to be from last year.”

If he does those things, there is no doubt in his mind that he will get his chance to show the world what he can do.

“You really just got to keep your focus and always be on the sideline, like you're going to get in, and train your mind like you're going to get in, be ready at any moment, because you never know when your name will be called,” Dixon said. “So I always just train my mind just to be ready for that moment to come.”

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Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia.

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