Dixon finds time for two fall sports

Profile: Hard-working, focused Severna Park football standout pursues pro or college baseball aspirations, too. And come this winter, he'll try his first sports love again, basketball.

September 23, 1999|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Severna Park senior Derek Dixon epitomizes the meaning of work ethic.

Paying the price to reach his goals comes naturally to the ultra-focused Dixon. He's a rare three-sport athlete who, while playing football, also competes in fall baseball, a sport in which he is a college and pro prospect.

His play at running back, cornerback and returning kicks has contributed to the Falcons' 3-0 start in football as they prepare for Saturday's visit to Calvert Hall.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Dixon, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, squats over 400 pounds and benches over 300, has 51 carries for 355 yards and three touchdowns with two additional six-pointers on punt returns.

It's his first and last year of football at Severna Park. He transferred from Riverdale Baptist at mid-semester last year and played basketball and baseball for the Falcons.

Severna Park football coach J. P. Hines noticed Dixon in January either eating a quick lunch or skipping it to lift weights.

"Derek has an unreal work ethic. He came up and introduced himself to me in the weight room and told me he was coming out for football," said Hines. "The first time I talked to him, I knew he was something special. Everything was, `Yes, sir; no, sir.' If all of our players had his work ethic and attitude, we would win a state championship."

Weekend play with Dean Albany's Oriolelanders' baseball team has not effected his play in either sport.

"I've been playing for Dean in the summer since I was 11, and it's the best move I ever made. He's gotten me a lot of looks," said Dixon, who is being recruited by Old Dominion, East Carolina, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington, George Mason, Miami and Maryland.

"It [fall baseball] has to be done to get noticed. It's important to work hard and not waste your talents. After playing football Friday nights, I'm usually sore on Saturday, but Sunday is usually a good day."

Big decisions are in the offing, and it helps immensely that Dixon has two understanding coaches.

"Derek has drawn a lot of attention from college and pro scouts because of his great arm and power from both sides of the plate, and he runs well," said Albany, whose Maryland Orioles have won two national titles with Dixon an important player.

"He plays really hard and has been disappointed that we haven't had him stealing bases this fall, like we do in the summer. But it was pretty considerate of Hines to let him play, and I wouldn't want to risk his getting hurt."

Dixon's future appears to be in baseball, but Hines called him "definitely Division I-caliber as a running back.

2; "I told him he could play baseball, because it's another thing he can do to better himself, and I would do that for any kid, especially a kid like Derek." J. P. Hines,Severna Park football coach "I told him he could play baseball, because it's another thing he can do to better himself, and I would do that for any kid, especially a kid like Derek," said Hines.

"If he misses a Saturday practice, he runs extra stingers [sprints] on Monday, and that's no problem. He loves the extra work. Heck, after tough practices during the week, he goes to the weight room to lift."

Basketball, which he began playing at his father's behest about age 6, was Dixon's first love.

Ronald Dixon, a Maryland state trooper, was a standout point guard at Stephen Decatur High on the Eastern Shore, leading his team to the state tournament at Cole Field House from 1969 to 1971 and winning a title in 1970. He scored more than 1,500 points at Salisbury State.

"Baseball has become my first priority," said Dixon, who found time last summer to play hoops with his Falcons mates in the Baltimore Neighborhood Basketball League and at Lake Waterford.

"If I can play both [baseball and football] in college, I would like to do it, but it's my goal to make it to the major leagues. If not, I intend to get my education in business administration and maybe one day own my own company."

A lifelong Severna Park resident, the 17-year old Dixon, who has a 2.8 grade-point average and 930 SAT, left Riverdale to rejoin the friends he had grown up with.

He immediately won a guard's spot in basketball, playing in 20 of the Falcons' 23 games and averaging 5.3 points, 3.7 boards and 2.6 assists.

This spring, he batted .377 with seven homers, 29 RBIs and 13 stolen bases as an All-County and second team All-Metro outfielder for the Falcons.

Now the football team is harvesting the fruits of his talents for the first time in what is only his fourth year playing the sport.

He didn't start playing football until the eighth grade with the Green Hornets, because his mother, Sandra Dixon, a bank office manager, was "afraid I would get hurt when I was little."

Dixon played his freshman and sophomore years at Riverdale, but the school dropped its varsity team last fall.

"I had always wanted to play football, and after doing so, I missed it last year," said Dixon.

J.P. Hines is glad he did.

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