Both of Army fullback Larry Dixon's parents served in the US Navy, but fans of the Black Knights are sure glad the powerful runner choose West Point. The sophomore is emerging as a dominant player in the team's powerful running game.
In an offense which runs the ball virtually all the time, a three-touchdown, 136-yard performance for Army against Northern Illinois last Saturday earned Dixon the title of Bowl Subdivision Offensive "Player of the Week".
Dixon's big day was part of a 486 yard Army running day in the option offense, which featured two other Black Knights run for over 100 yards. Senior quarterback Trent Steelman ran 116 yards in 29 attempts and junior halfback Raymond Maples ran for 159 yards on 23 attempts, a strong average of 6.9 yards per rush. Army threw for eight yards and one completion in the 41-40 shootout decided by extra point attempts.
So far Dixon has 170 yards averaging 4.7 yards per attempt on the season, often running right over the center and into the heart of the opposing defense.
Playing in all 12 games during the 2011 season, Dixon began to demonstrate his potential to be a game-changer. He ended up as the third leading ground gainer on the team, rushing for 657 yards and adding 90 more on kickoff returns.
But the story of the poise shown in Larry Brown's effort and success in handling the difficult freshman year challenges thrown at him at West Point caught the eye of the Joe Drape in his new book on the 2011 West Point season "Soldiers First". In his new book about the West Point's 2011 season, Joe Drape chronicles, Dixon's arduous journey through "Beast Barracks" last summer, when every new cadet goes through a demanding six week basic training program which Drape describes as doing,
"A good job of weeding out the noncommitted".
Conditions at "Beast" were no different for a football player than for any of the other 1,000 plus members of his freshman class. Drape quotes Dixon on what it took to get through the training period,
"You have to dig down. It takes grit, true grit to get through the day. You've got to have high performance every day because somebody's life might depend on it."
We had a chance to speak with the Bremerton, Washington native in August and he described what it was like to end up as a starting player at Army as a freshman:
"A real honor, especially when you think of the history this place has, and the guys I got to play next to, it was a real honor to play next to them".
The sophomore is handling what is a rigorous academic load while excelling at Division One college football. This semester he is taking Advanced Physics, Geology, Intermediate French, and Calculus II. About his major, he is looking at Kinesiology or Information Technology
Dixon described the extensive service of his parents in the US Navy,
"My Mom and Dad are both retired Navy, my Dad had 20 years service and my Mom, 24 years," proudly adding, "My Mom retired as a senior chief petty officer".
About his decision to go to West Point, coming from a Navy family and a Navy town on the far side of the country, the well-spoken, polite Cadet said,
"At first it was a little bit weird, at first they did know who to root for, but by the time the Army-Navy game came around, my Mom was an adamant Army fan.
Navy fans may wonder what happened, why Larry Dixon did not end up at Annapolis, but Navy's loss is Army's great fortune. One thing we can all agree on, it is easy to root for service academy players like Army's Larry Dixon.
Ken Kraetzer covers West Point football for WVOX 1460 AM in New Rochelle, NY and Sons of the American Legion radio. Listen to his high school /college football reports on 1460AM or www.WVOX.com every Friday morning at 6:35 AM.