From out of the shadows
Jadeveon Clowney gets the headlines, but Gerald Dixon making a name for himself
ROCK HILL, S.C. -- On a team with Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 prospect in the ESPNU 150, it's easy for other Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe players to get lost in the shadow.
Case in point: Gerald Dixon.
Clowney certainly understands that. He sees daily what Dixon brings, and opponents learn quickly on game day that they can't just key on the five-star Clowney; they have to respect Dixon's skills.
"Gerald's the other half," Clowney said. "He may not be that fast but for a man that weighs 260 pounds, he can really move for a big guy. Gerald plays hard and it helps me that he's on the other side. I really believe we help each other out. Teams can't just worry about me and he's get them. He's good. He's really good. With both of us it really makes it hard on the offenses we play."
Dixon had a solid performance in South Pointe's Friday night 14-13 overtime win over Spartanburg (S.C.) High School and seemingly got better and stronger as the game went on, including in the overtime period.
"Wow. That was an outrageous game," Dixon said. "It came down to the end and the defense played well. It was a great game and I am glad we came out on top. That's a big win for us."
While both Clowney and Dixon received a lot of attention from Spartanburg, they still made plays when needed, or just occupied blockers so their teammates could make the plays. "No. 7 [Clowney] and No. 44 [Dixon] got picked on a lot tonight," Carroll said. "They saw double-teams and triple-teams a lot. But they are both that good and I am proud of them. I am proud of my defense and my team.
"We have played a tough schedule and we are 4-1. We have played Northwestern, Rock Hill and Charlotte [N.C.] Independence. I am happy for Gerald that a lot of schools have seen him play some really good football teams with some really good players. I mean that's some quality opponents. Gerald has a bunch of plays for us. He's 6-4 and 260 pounds and a really good football player. I think he has as many sacks as Clowney this season."
Dixon and Clowney's physical attributes contrast each other on the field. Clowney, 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, is blessed with speed, quickness and athleticism. He's a big body with a long frame and is more of a prototypical speed-rush end. Dixon is a little smaller and more compact, but he's strong at the point of attack and looks to have the versatility to play inside or out.
"I do think I can play end or tackle in college," Dixon said. "I have the size and can get bigger if I need to move inside. Or I can be a bigger defensive end. I am a power football player. In the end for me it doesn't matter. I just want to play college football."
When it comes to recruiting, Dixon is taking the open approach. While it may seem South Carolina could be the team to beat, he lists a bunch of schools at the top for his services.
"South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, NC State and Wake Forest are the schools that I like right now," Dixon said. "I like how South Carolina is playing right now. They are winning, play well and really looking good. I love how they are playing. I am waiting on Alabama to see what they do [with an offer or not]. Really though I am open. I am mostly looking at the coaching staffs, the overall programs and how I fit in. You know, all that stuff."
Stuff that's been lost in the shadows -- until now.
Youth is served
Though the Stallions will lose both Dixon and Clowney to graduation this year, there is a lot of young talent in this South Pointe program. Quarterback Tay Hicklin is quite an athlete and could end up at wide receiver or in the secondary at the next level. The same can be said for wingback Montae Crockett and Jayran Jennings. This trio has three things in common -- they are extremely fast, very athletic and very versatile.
Perhaps the most impressive underclassman was junior free safety Corey Neely. He's fast, physical and always seems to be around the ball. Neely also had a spectacular punt return in the first half of the Spartanburg game on which he got drilled but managed to stay on his feet and outrace the Spartanburg coverage team for a huge gain. He flipped the field position and got momentum back for his team in the process.
Sophomore cornerback Devin Person is one to watch for in the Class of 2013. Like his teammates listed above, he has speed and quickness and pretty good size for a younger player.
"Man, I am so proud of our younger guys," Carroll said. "They all played really well tonight. You can see that they have the talent. I believe next season they will be SEC/ACC caliber recruits. All of them. They each have a bright future in football."
Spartanburg's got talent
Junior quarterback Adrian Collins had a good game for the Vikings and made the plays when his team needed him. He has pretty good size and athletic ability, a good arm and throws a nice ball. He just needs more reps because he backed up Michigan's Cornelius Jones last season.
"Adrian is a pocket passer right now that will learn how to be a dual-threat quarterback," Spartanburg coach Freddie Brown said. "He's very smart and I think he has tremendous upside."
Two other seniors, Quan Fuller and Tra Kelly-Rice, also have good seasons working. Fuller, 6-2 and 194 pounds, made a beautiful touchdown grab on fourth down in overtime, twisting in the air to make an acrobatic catch while keeping his feet in bounds with a defender draped all over him. Kelly-Rice, a 6-2, 245-pound defensive lineman, was in on a lot of plays.
Maryland offensive tackle commit Stephen Grommer, had a solid night. He lined up mainly against Dixon and more than held his own. Much of the time he would down block, leaving Dixon to someone else or allowing him upfield. Grommer also showed the ability to get to the second level in a hurry. He will likely be a guard for the Terrapins.
You can go home again
Spartanburg alum Stephen Davis was in attendance. In 1991, he led the Vikings to a state championship and was the USA Today Player of the Year before signing with Auburn. He left the Tigers has the No. 4 all-time leading rusher. Davis was drafted by the Washington Redskins and played in the NFL for 10 years.
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.