When you're sitting on 14 commitments three weeks out from National Signing Day and you may have only 2-3 remaining slots available, you need to be picky about the prospects you're not only going after but accept commitments from. Luckily for Kill and Bill Miller, that selectivity and patience paid off this morning.
Word broke from the Twitterdome via Ryan Burns (who else?) with follow up from Palm Beach recruiting guru Jeff Greer that Loxahatchee (FL) Seminole Ridge HS linebacker Rayfield Dixon pledged his sworn fielty to Overlord Jer' this morning. Dixon is the 15th member of the Gophers' 2013 recruiting class, picking Minnesota over finalists West Virginia and Bowling Green. A three star prospect on 247Sports' Industry Composite, Rayfield also listed offers from Purdue, Mississippi State, Wake Forest, Temple, FIU, Northern Illinois and at least 4 other FBS schools.
Dixon is the third prep linebacker in this class, joining Chris Wipson (MLB) and De'Niro Laster (listed as an OLB but could bulk up to MLB).
Seminole Ridge interim HC Justin Hilliker from Greer's commitment article:
"The relationship was big. He really looked at every aspect of the decision and was very thorough."
Short but sweet. Hopefully we'll get some more color from Dixon when he speaks to one of the recruiting bros.
ESPNU evaluation ($)
Dixon is a very active linebacker playing from a two point stance "on" the line of scrimmage; his quickness, balance and agility make it difficult to get a hat on him. ... This guy is a tough, wrap tackler; puts ball carriers on the turf with very little yardage after contact; should be productive playing multiple positions on special teams. ... His instincts and nose for the football put him in position to make big plays all over the field.
For what it's worth, ESPNU lists "tackling ability" and "outside run support" has key traits for Dixon. Those two things were deficient from our linebackers the past two seasons.
YouTubes and/or other Highlights
Senior year highlights via Hudl.
(Likely Fraudulent) Measureables
Weight: 192-200 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: 4.5-4.8s
In complete irrelevant (but incredibly relevant from a swag perspective), Dixon has the best damn haircut of the 2013 class and second only to Aaron Hill for current Gophers. Not many can rock a hi-top fade with major lift, so for that reason alone Dixon deserves another star from the ranking services.
Now, football and how Dixon fits in to what the Gophers want to do on D. If Laster doesn't end up a strongside 'backer (i.e. the staff bulks him up to MLB), Dixon's speed off the edge and ability to jump around blocks may allow him to play on the strong side, both in the traditional alignment and in a 4-3 under look. His height, length and playing speed could be an asset covering tight ends and slot receivers, though all of that remains to be seen (of course). Otherwise, he may be available to play on the weakside, dependent upon his open field tackling ability.
Regarding concerns about his lack of heft, I say phooey! Spencer Reeves was roughly the same size -if not smaller- from his listed figures out of Skyline HS. Unless you're expecting him to play as a true freshman, which I am not, arriving on campus as a 200 lbs. linebacker recruit doesn't bother me at all since it's not as if the staff doesn't have time to develop him. There are 9 scholarship and walk-on linebackers returning for the 2013 season, including six outside backers, so the likelihood of needing a true freshman to play right away is low. Unless Dixon or another OLB recruit tears up the field during summer workouts or fall camp, the staff has the luxury of not needing to play any true freshman at the OLB spot this fall, much like last season.