How Clemson’s Lyn-J Dixon still wants to improve after strong freshman season

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney breaks down 2019 recruiting class

Tigers added two scholarship prospects Wednesday
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Tigers added two scholarship prospects Wednesday

Lyn-J Dixon arrived at Clemson in the summer of 2018 with plenty of talented running backs in front of him, including Travis Etienne and Tavien Feaster.

But the Georgia native wasn’t content with sitting on the bench for most of his freshman season and waiting for opportunities to come in 2019 and beyond.

Dixon made it his goal to help the Tigers as a true freshman in 2018, and the speedy back did just that, rushing for 547 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games as Clemson won its second national title in three years.

Dixon finished third on Clemson’s team in rushing with 547 yards, one yard less than senior Adam Choice, and he led the Tigers in yards per carry at 8.8. Etienne, who finished seventh in Heisman trophy voting, averaged 8.1 yards per carry.

“I wanted to come in and make a big impact and I feel like I did that,” Dixon told The State last month. “We all bought in to what coach (Tony Elliott) said. We all put in the work at practice and showed it on the field each and every game.”

Dixon started turning heads shortly after he arrived on campus as Clemson’s coaching staff almost immediately started comparing him to Etienne, who led the Tigers in rushing as a freshman in 2017.

It didn’t take long for the rest of the nation to see what Clemson’s coaching staff realized early on – Dixon has a chance to be special.

The 5-foot-10, 195-pound back did not always go where he was supposed to during his rookie year, but he made plays time and time again when his number was called.

“Lyn-J, he’s kind of like Travis from that sense that he doesn’t know anything about anything. He just doesn’t know. … We’ll have a run play and he’ll just run wherever,” Tigers receiver Hunter Renfrow said. “He just keeps square and slides and scores touchdowns. He’s a really good player and I’m excited to see him as I move along and he moves up the depth chart in the years to come.”

While Dixon was flattered by being compared to Etienne, he doesn’t necessarily agree that the two are similar running backs.

“It was kind of shocking. In my opinion I feel like we’ve got a different running style, but they compare me to him so I just go with it,” Dixon said. “I’d say I’m a little bit quicker.”

Dixon topped the 100-yard mark twice in his freshman season, rushing for 116 yards on four carries against Louisville and 163 yards on 10 carries against Wake Forest.

He should be in line for even more playing time in 2019, particularly if he can improve in a couple of areas this offseason.

“Really working on my blocking. I’m trying to improve on that really, really good. That’s one of my main things,” Dixon said. “(And) staying low when I go through the holes. I need to work on that.”

Matt Connolly is the Clemson beat writer and covers recruiting and college sports for The State newspaper and The