Dixon's Favorite Fun Will Be Winning Season

Anthony Dixon has a healthy sense of humor about his bulk. So he doesn't take it amiss whenever the coach tugs up the tee-shirt for a quick, umm, gut-check. In fact it's a point of pride. "I guess he wants to get a look at my perfect abs!" Dixon boasts. "I got some to show off, I'm trying to get eight of them. Not six, eight."

Well, whatever one believes of this Bulldog's bonus abs-pack idea, Anthony Dixon is entirely serious about preparing for the coming season. And yes: while ‘serious' and the Dog they call ‘Boobie' are not an easy verbal link, the resident class clown really has approached his senior summer with the goal of kicking off 2009 in the peak condition of his Mississippi State career.

"I'm working hard trying to get to where Coach wants me to be so I can be effective this year," he says.

That leads to the usual question regarding Dixon, of exactly where Coach Dan Mullen wants the scale to read for A.D.? While the new head coach does qualify such questions with the reminder that a big back has a prominent place in the spread offense, there is an unofficial goal of 230 pounds going into August camp. And Dixon has been there before; just not very often or for very long, playing at more like 240-245 in previous years. Still the signs are good.

"Today I weighed-in at 236," he reports. Yet Dixon isn't just challenged by his natural healthy appetite, he says the nature of the new MSU workout program necessarily means storing up calories to burn! "I've been eating a lot trying to keep my energy up because we're working out tough, I think we have the hardest workouts in the country you know. So I try to eat so I can have a lot of energy.

"I'm trying to get to 230 and at the same time trying to feed myself where I have a lot of energy so I can come in here and go at this pace."

Give Dixon credit for keeping a demanding pace of lifting and running this summer. Now of course every Bulldog is being pushed harder and farther than ever before under the direction of Coach Matt Balis and staff. Thus the entire summer-squad can show gains in physical prowess and loss (unless otherwise dictated by position) in pounds. Even if most settle for a standard straight-six on the abdominal front.

But Dixon's quip about trying for a V-8 does have a serious—there's that word again—side. He simply cannot labor the same as everybody else does. "Coach wants me to be a leader because I'm a senior and I have to work harder than everybody else," Dixon explains. "Then sometimes he asks me to help the other guys work! I have to help them with some of their stuff, so all that comes into play. I'm just trying to do my job, I'm not going to say I'm a coach now but I think it's in my future, I think I can do it! But I've been here and I have some good information I can drop off to them."

The point being that jokes and nickname aside, Boobie Dixon is really not just another player on this 2009 team. Not with his resume and records. Consider that after just three varsity seasons Dixon already owns the program record for both rushing touchdowns (30) and total touchdowns scored (34). That he has rushed for 2,603 yards and ranks fourth on the MSU career list. That he is only 609 yards from catching Jerious Norwood for the Bulldog ground-gaining record.

So Dixon admits that yes, he can see himself as a special player in this league. "But I'm just a Mississippi State player. I just go out there every day and work hard trying to get better. I'm so unsatisfied with where I am right now, I'm not close to satisfied with what I'm doing right now. All that is fine and dandy but I'm still starving." Alright then, what would satisfy that hunger? The trademark grin returns full-strength.

"Uhh, two million dollars in my bank account?! That's why I'm unsatisfied."

Since that particular craving has to hold until 2010's draft, Dixon fortunately is focused on more immediate goals. Not statistical targets, necessarily. In fact he says the only times he's checked out the Bulldog record book for his name were "because I was just bored and didn't have nothing else to do! I ain't nothing I stress on, but it does motivate me to do more and bigger. I haven't broken every record so I want to get some more!

"It's always something you can work on. Especially with us having a new offense, so all of that has changed. It's kind of gone back to when I was a freshman but I'm not; so I have a lot of stuff to work on. And Coach doesn't like my weight where I'm at right now so I have that to work on. And I feel I can get faster. I feel I can be a better player, I don't think I'm where I need to be and I can get better."

Funny thing about his plan to speed up as a senior. It's easy to see Dixon as merely a muscle man, though more than a few fans have bemoaned his tendency in short-yard settings not to take advantage of strength. Dixon insists this has been addressed and there'll be no more dancing in search of huge gains when just couple of steps ahead is required. Yet the truth is Dixon has another gear he's shown on occasion, such as big bursts on standard dive-plays against Alabama and Arkansas as a freshman. Or that 71-yard jaunt at Georgia Tech last fall. Backfield teammates like Robert Elliot insist A.D. is faster than most recognize.

Dixon is cool with being overlooked. "Oh, yeah, other teams don't have to appreciate it, I'll just keep hitting them upside the head with it! They'll appreciate it sooner or later!" Foes will likely need to do it sooner because in this spread system Mullen likes putting the big back in a big-play position, either as a slot receiver or even an outright (or out-left) split end. Placing a 240-or-so-pounder on the line of scrimmage to the wide side of the field says what all need to know about Mullen's spread concepts.

"I love it, man, just the way Coach spreads us out and the way he switches us around," Dixon says. "It's going to keep the defense confused and keep miss-matches. We're always looking for the miss-matches. And I feel there ain't a linebacker or safety that can cover me in the league, if he puts me out there I'm looking at Tyson or Tyler or Chris like ‘throw the ball to me, man, because I can beat this dude'!"

For that matter Dixon has beaten coverage coming out of the backfield, with four touchdown catches—all in SEC play interestingly. But one fascinating twist on spring training was Dixon beating pass defense by throwing the ball in scrimmage action. As much as he enjoys scoring as a receiver, he likes the idea of doing the passing himself. In fact, this year I think I would rather have more touchdowns passing!

"I think that would look better on the resume. You know, the things I can do. I hope Coach will give me the opportunity, I would love that. If my job is to throw a pass then I'm going to throw it like a Peyton Manning back there!" No, seriously (again). Dixon insists he can loft the ball "about 70 good yards" if necessary. "That goes back to my baseball career, and I almost played quarterback in high school. I still think I could play it." Then again Dixon thinks he can play every position on the field except maybe down-lineman.

"I always tell them there ain't nothing Boobie can't do!"

Joking aside…no, hold on. There is no way to put the joking aside dealing with Dixon. Not even in those times when he insists he is trying to sound and look serious. "Somehow I still come out funning to a lot of people! But I take it as it comes.

"I mean, that's the real me. I try to give them me every day, you know. I'm not going to shoot ‘em no lies or nothing, I'm going to be real every day and the way I act is me. The way I talk is me. A lot of them look at me and we'll be laughing all the time but that's me, man. I can't help it, that's just me!"

Of course A.D. just being Boobie is a mighty good thing to have on a team and in a lineup. There's a genuine love of the game that bubbles from this Dog and to repress it would be wrong. Dixon truly appreciates the blessing—his word—of playing for Mississippi State and in the Southeastern Conference and means to take every advantage of all opportunities.

Besides, he knows what is the real fun in football. "Winning. That's all I want to do this year, I don't even care about scoring touchdowns or getting yards, I'm going to do my job the best I can. But the NFL, they want winners. I watched the draft and they like winners, they draft players from winning teams.

"So that's what I want to do more than anything, man. I'm totally honest with you when I say I just want to win, I want to win this year. That is my number one goal." Then the marvelous grin returns. "Oh, and two million dollars sounds good, too! Then I will be smiling!"

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