VAUGHT: Dixon returns bigger and smarter

If it is possible to learn from mistakes and misfortune, then Tony Dixon could be considered a wise, wise young man.

If it is possible to learn from mistakes and misfortune, then Tony Dixon could be considered a wise, wise young man.

Dixon came to Kentucky from a small school in Alabama regarded as a solid defensive back. However, before the 2004 season started, he got to switch to tailback and became UK's leading rusher. Then his troubles started. He was banned from spring practice in 2005 by coach Rich Brooks for academic shortcomings. The news got worse when he broke his ankle before the start of the 2005 season and had to watch Rafael Little become not only UK's top runner, but also one of the nation's top all-purpose yardage players.

Now a bigger, smarter Dixon is back and can't wait to join Little in what he thinks can be a talented Kentucky backfield.

"I'm just glad to be back out here. It seems like it has been 10 years since I've played," Dixon said. "I've been so anxious just to get back. I'm so excited I can't describe it. I really worked hard in the offseason trying to get myself caught up with my teammates. I pushed myself in the weightroom, classroom and conditioning.

"I learned some valuable lessons. My time off really set everything in front of me and let me see all that was out there. I realized what I needed to do on and off the field."

Did he let athletics overwhelm academics his first year at Kentucky? "That's exactly what it was. It happened and I let it. I am from a small town that is so different from here. You get caught up in different things here and I made some mistakes," Dixon said.

Believe him when he says he learned his lessons. His grades have improved dramatically after being booted out of spring practice by Brooks. "I had time to apply myself more and dig into what I wanted to do. I realized I had a lot in front of me," Dixon said.

"I want this to be a great year. I think with me and Rafael in the backfield, we can have a great offense. We can give defenses a lot of trouble because we can do so many things. We're finally going to be healthy at the same time and that's going to not only help us both, but also really help the team."


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