Linebacker recruit gives Lions a verbal
By Philip Cmor
The Penn State football team set off some fireworks in advance of the Fourth of July on the recruiting front on Sunday.
Lance Dixon, a speedy, four-star linebacker from Michigan, gave the Nittany Lions a verbal commitment via a video uploaded to Twitter while he was attending The Opening Finals in Texas.
“I was looking for a school with a loyal coaching staff, a place where I was treated like family. I wanted to play for a program that put me in the best position to succeed on the field, a place that knows a thing or two about linebackers. And I needed a school that set me up for life after football,” Dixon said. “I found what I was looking for.
“We are ….”
Dixon chose the Lions over Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State. He’d been considered a Penn State lean for a few months, with the Badgers the strongest challenger.
Ranked by 247Sports composite index as the No. 254 prospect in the 2019 recruiting class, Dixon holds scholarship offers from nearly 30 Division I schools. He joins five-star Virginia prospect Brandon Smith as linebackers in this Penn State recruiting class and is the 10th member of this Lion class overall.
Currently ranked 20th in the country, Penn State’s class is expected to end up with about 20 players.
In the 6-foot-2, 201-pound Dixon, Penn State is getting a linebacker who possesses the speed of a defensive back. He was timed at 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash at regional Opening competition, and he finished seventh in his state in the 200-meter dash, clocking 22.43 seconds.
That athletic ability has translated to the football field. The all-Michigan player had eight tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss in the Lakers’ 3-2 state championship game loss last fall, and he’s already accepted an invitation to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“Very good athlete with excellent speed, especially at his size,” 247Sports regional analyst Allen Trieu wrote in an evaluation of Dixon. “In college, he can project as a true linebacker or as a hybrid depending on the school and defensive scheme. He has rare ability to cover at his size. He can play man to man and has the makeup speed to stay with slots and running backs. He has not been used as an edge blitzer much in his high school scheme, but has the skills to do that. After one year closer to the line of scrimmage, continuing to work on taking on and shedding blocks is key for him moving forward.”
“They are getting a freakish hybrid kid,” West Bloomfield coach Ron Bellamy told 247Sports. “He looks what today’s NFL is like where he can come in the box and be linebacker, rover, strong safety position or play in a two-deep shell and backpedal. You would never know he’s a linebacker by the way he moves.”
The Lions could be on the verge of adding another talented player in the next few days on the other side of the ball. Maryland wideout John Metchie is scheduled to announce his college choice today — Penn State has been near the top of Metchie’s list for a while now, although it appears Metchie probably will follow former Lion assistant coach Josh Gattis to Alabama.
However, tears shouldn’t be wept for the Lions if they miss out on Metchie, because it appears they might be close to getting a commitment from 6-2, 172-pound four-star Florida receiver John Dunmore, 247Sports’ No. 107 player in this class. Dunmore has close ties with recent Penn State assistant coach hire Ja’Juan Seider.
The Nittany Lions also have reeled in a top-notch talent as a preferred walk-on, as Lions247’s Sean Fitz reported at Saturday’s Lift for Life that former Notre Dame running back C.J. Holmes has enrolled at Penn State. Originally a four-star recruit out of Connecticut, Holmes was dismissed from the Irish in December after an alleged shoplifting charge. His sister, Alexis, is a Penn State track and field recruit.