Wisconsin recruiting: 'Athletic freak' Lance Dixon likes Badgers; new football offers


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4-star OLB Lance Dixon’s coach updates Wisconsin recruitment

West Bloomfield (Mich.) football coach Ron Bellamy describes linebacker Lance Dixon as “an athletic freak,” a genetically gifted, physically imposing football player whose speed and size make him as versatile as any defensive player in the Midwest.

Based on the way Dixon performed last weekend at Nike’s The Opening regional in Massillon, Ohio, it would be hard to argue.

Dixon earned linebacker most valuable player honors at the event. According to 247Sports, he ran a laser-timed 4.5-second 40-yard dash. He also “closed quickly on running backs in cat and mouse, was a handful to block in pass-rushing drills and handled his business covering in space.” Bellamy noted that Dixon also possessed a 40-inch vertical leap.

Not bad for a 6-foot-3, 210-pound prospect who hasn’t even begun his senior season of high school football.

“That’s the speed and 40-inch vertical of a 6-foot defensive back that’s a first-round draft pick in the NFL,” Bellamy told Land of 10. “Fortunately for us, he’s an outside linebacker. With that speed and explosion, he’s a kid that can play all three levels.

“He can come back, he can backpedal, he can cover slots, he can cover outside receivers. You can put him at linebacker. He can blitz off the edge. You can put him at end and he can rush. He’s a great pass rusher. What makes him special is his ability to change the game in three different phases.”

Dixon is rated as a 4-star prospect and the No. 21 outside linebacker in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports composite. He holds 26 scholarship offers and it appears it will be a Big Ten showdown for his services. Dixon is scheduled to take official visits to Penn State on June 8 and Wisconsin on June 15. Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State also are high on Dixon’s list of potential schools.

Lance Dixon’s junior season highlights

In the last week, Dixon has earned invitations to The Opening Finals and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. While at The Opening regional, Dixon told Land of 10 Ohio State reporter Ryan Donnelly that Wisconsin’s coaching staff had stood out.

“Coach [Bob] Bostad is a really good coach, they’ve got a great defensive line and they’re recruiting me to put me in a great position to go to the NFL,” Dixon said.

Dixon unofficially visited Wisconsin on March 15. Bellamy cited the relationships Dixon has built not only with inside linebackers coach Bostad — who recruits in Michigan — but with coach Paul Chryst and defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard. New outside linebackers coach Bobby April also has begun forming a bond with Dixon.

“Coach Chryst is a people person,” Bellamy said. “He just wants to get to know you, develop a relationship and that really attracted Lance. I think Coach Leonhard, just the chance to develop a relationship with him, a guy that played at Wisconsin and is now the D-coordinator and someone that could help Lance get to the next level. Coach Bob Bostad has done a phenomenal job of developing a relationship.

“Coach April, he’s kind of piggy-backed what Leonhard and Bostad and Chryst have done. He would be Lance’s primary coach at Wisconsin. He’s done a great job connecting the dots with Lance and making him feel very welcome. Lance feels very open and he feels very good about Wisconsin. Good enough that he wants to take one of his five [official] visits there.”

Two of Dixon’s former high school teammates committed to Wisconsin in the 2018 recruiting class. Wide receiver Taj Mustapha enrolled in time for spring practice and wide receiver A.J. Abbott will arrive this summer.

According to the Detroit Free-Press, Dixon finished his junior season with a team-leading 132 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 11 pass breakups, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery.

“He has a unique feel where he’s a genetic freak with his size and athleticism,” Bellamy said. “That’s what coaches are looking for. But most important, Lance is a great kid. He’s an unbelievable kid. High-character kid. He’s a kid that’s going to make the locker room better and the university better.”

Wisconsin football offers more scholarships

Wisconsin’s football program continues to traverse the country in search of high school talent, particularly in the 2019 and 2020 classes. Here’s a look at the most recent scholarship offers.

2019 DE Mataio Soli (Douglasville, Ga.)

Mataio Soli is a 6-4, 225-pound defensive end who holds 28 scholarship offers. Some of the schools of interest are Arkansas, California, Duke, Florida and Georgia Tech. Soli is rated as 3-star prospect and the No. 73 weakside defensive end in the country, per the 247Sports composite.

2019 TE Erick All (Fairfield, Ohio)

Erick All has earned recent offers from Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota, Duke and Wisconsin. All is a 6-4, 225-pound tight end and ranks No. 27 in the country. Wisconsin has one tight end committed in the 2019 class with Hayden Rucci (Lititz, Pa.). Apparently the Badgers are after a second tight end in the class.

2021 OLB Chaz Chambliss (Carrollton, Ga.)

Chaz Chambliss has played only one season of high school football but already has 17 scholarship offers, including recent offers from Mississippi State, Florida, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Alabama and Wisconsin. Chambliss is a 6-3, 220-pound outside linebacker.

2020 OL John Williams (Canton, Ga.)

John Williams has six scholarship offers: Wisconsin, Memphis, N.C. State, North Carolina, Ole Miss and Tennessee. Williams has unofficially visited Vanderbilt, North Carolina and Ole Miss in the last two months. Williams is a 6-6, 255-pound tackle.

2019 S Nick Cross (Hyattsville, Md.)

Nick Cross has a massive offer list of 34 schools, and Wisconsin appears to be a long shot to land him. Cross is high on Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Auburn and Notre Dame. He took an official visit to Florida on April 13 and has official visits planned this summer for Alabama (June 8) and Florida State (June 22). Cross is a 6-foot, 208-pound prospect who is rated as the No. 6 safety in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports composite.

2020 DE Darrion Henry (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Darrion Henry earned scholarship offers in recent days from Vanderbilt, Louisville, Nebraska and Wisconsin. His top schools at this stage are Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State. Henry is a 6-6, 260-pound prospect who is rated as the No. 4 strongside defensive end in the 2020 class, according to 247Sports.

2020 RB Reggie Love (St. Louis)

Reggie Love is a 5-10, 175-pound tailback with 13 scholarship offers. Love unofficially visited Illinois on Feb. 18. The 247Sports site lists him as a 3-star prospect and the No. 42 running back in the 2020 class.

2020 RB Mookie Cooper (St. Louis)

Running back Mookie Cooper picked up a Wisconsin offer Tuesday. He has recent offers from Tennessee and Georgia and has 22 offers in total. Cooper is a 5-9, 178-pound prospect who is rated as the No. 11 running back in the 2020 class.

2020 OL Chad Lindberg (League City, Texas)

Chad Lindberg’s recruitment has gained serious momentum in the last week, with scholarship offers from Alabama, Florida, Texas A&M, Wisconsin and Notre Dame. Lindberg, a 6-6, 306-pound tackle, has 23 offers. He is rated as a 4-star prospect and the No. 12 tackle in the 2020 class.

2019 DT Isaiah Gibson (Springfield, Ohio)

Wisconsin offered a scholarship to 6-4, 298-pound defensive tackle Isaiah Gibson, who attends the same high school that Badgers wide receiver Danny Davis once did. Gibson holds 21 scholarship offers, with some of his top schools listed as Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa State, Kentucky and West Virginia. Gibson is a 3-star prospect and the No. 58 defensive tackle nationally, according to the 247Sports composite.

2019 OL Jake Hornibrook (Malvern, Pa.)

Here’s a name that ought to sound familiar to Wisconsin fans. Tackle Jake Hornibrook, the younger brother of Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook, tweeted about a Wisconsin scholarship offer Thursday. Jake Hornibrook is a 6-foot-4, 275-pound prospect who has 24 scholarship offers. His latest offers come from Clemson, Tennessee, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

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