When Bryce Dixon was initially offered by NC State, the fact that it represented a jump up to a higher level of football and a chance to stay closer to home did not mean the Green Hope star and then-Old Dominion commit would elect to simply accept the offer.
“Bryce is a relationship person,” Green Hope head coach and Bryce’s father Kwame Dixon said. “He was not caught up in the ACC thing.”
The younger Dixon has battled this season for the Falcons, who sit at 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the Southwest Wake Conference with one game at Athens Drive on Friday remaining.
Bryce is intent on leaving his mark at Green Hope before attending NC State.
“We are not really known to have D-1 recruits come out for football,” Dixon said. “So I really just want to make a good impression before leaving Green Hope. I want people to say “Bryce Dixon went here.” Hopefully it will attract other students from different high schools to come and play for this team.”
Dixon originally committed to Old Dominion before changing his verbal to NC State back in June. What sold him on the change was not the allure of big-time football but the chance to mingle on campus and excel in the classroom with the chance to remain close to his family as the cherry on top..
“It is academics,” Dixon said. “They had both majors that I wanted to look at; political science and sports management. I was really happy about that. Also the campus life, everybody seems to get along. The coaches and the players’ relationship with each other, it really felt just like a family. Practice is competitive. Overall, I felt it would be a real good fit for me and it is close enough that my family and extended family could come to the games.”
The relationship that was built between the Dixon family and the NC State coaching staff also stood out. It did not end after Bryce’s commitment.
“Once they offered me, they really kept in touch with me and just showed me not just the sports side of NC State but also the academics,” Bryce said. “They had me sit in classes. They showed me how the tutoring program works. It just really stuck out to me that they wanted me to be a part of their program. After that, it just felt like a really good fit for me because no other school reached out to me like that.”
“The only reason Bryce chose to go to State, he had already committed to Old Dominion, was the relationship with coach Faulkner,” Coach Dixon said. “Bryce, when they first offered him a scholarship, was not like, ‘Oh yeah, I am definitely going because they are in the ACC.’”
"Because of our proximity and the opportunity to watch them practice and meet with coach Veltkamp, it was that relationship,” Coach Dixon added. “He said basically, ‘Okay, I am comfortable working with coach Faulkner, Veltkamp and, ultimately, coach Doeren.’”
With the challenge of becoming ‘The Man’ during his senior season in high school also comes expectations from not only pundits but also those around him. That includes the NC State fan base.
Dixon has dealt with the hype during the 2015 campaign with maturity according to his father.
“He is progressing and taking on the challenge of being the best guy on the field--at least for us,” Coach Dixon said. “We used him only as a wide receiver in years past. Now we use him as a slot, a running back, wideout, a tight end, outside linebacker, safety; we have put him in multiple positions. He has done a tremendous job doing all that and maintaining his grades so he can go to State next year.”
““He is very enthusiastic about going to State next year,” Coach Dixon added. “This is a ‘NC State Nation’ as we are kind of learning. Bryce has been focused. He understands that we have to take care of what we have to do at Green Hope first. He wants to have a great senior year. He is also trying to live up to the expectations of his classmates and friends. He has handled the pressure really well so far. I am proud.”
The attention Wolfpack Nation gives Dixon as he navigates through his final year in high school has also left an indelible impression on the PACK16-commit.
“It is amazing,” Dixon said. “They will tweet out stats before I can even get on my phone. They will wish me good luck. They will say ‘hey' from time-to-time. That is probably the biggest thing is knowing that I can lean back on other people. The fanbase is just amazing.”
Like he has aspired to do for his father at Green Hope, Dixon ultimately seeks to have an impact at NC State that leads the Wolfpack to a better place than it was when he gets there.
“Coach Doeren has just done an exceptional job,” Dixon said. “Just seeing the way they practice, their films and the position meetings, they are so focused and locked in with what they want to do. It is all about the dedication. What you put in is what you are going to get out.”