I love my job, but not to the point that I’m shooting out of bed at the crack of dawn with a big smile on my face. Just ask my wife, she of the sharp elbows.
Perhaps I should take a cue from Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State’s irrepressible senior running back. If you know anything about him, you know he’s the most loquacious player on the team, is rarely without a smile, and relishes every carry, every hit, every moment of a game.
You know about the records, too. I and everyone else have written about his feats at length. Dixon takes pride in those accomplishments, and they’re what helps him roll out of bed each morning and persevere through practices and workouts and all the other stuff that would leave most of us whimpering in a corner.
“I think my life would be kind of boring if I didn’t have goals or made goals when I woke up every morning,” Dixon said Monday. “That’s what I do. It just gives me a reason to wake up with a bounce and get through the day.”
MSU (4-6, 2-4 SEC), which visits Arkansas (6-4, 2-4) this Saturday, must win its final two games to become bowl eligible. Dixon has made it very plain how desperately he wants to go to a bowl game.
Logic tells us the chances of that happening are slim to none, and slim just left town. We knew entering this season of change that a bowl was mostly a pipe dream, and that progress would not be measured by whether the Bulldogs reached the postseason. Just don’t tell Dixon that. For all his great stats, nothing matters more than the win-loss stat.
He’s trying to get his teammates to believe as much as he does.
“I don’t know how much they believe right now, but I guess we’ll find out these next couple days of practice,” he said. “I’m going to try to get them to believe 100 percent. I think our team knows that we’re good enough to play with anybody, good enough to beat anybody.”
This guy is just as hungry now—maybe more so—than when he burst onto the scene as a freshman. Junior defensive end Pernell McPhee, a junior college transfer, sees that hunger every day.
“He’s got something he calls ‘brick squad,’ talking about we’re breaking bricks on people,” McPhee said. “Every day he tells us this, before the games he tells us this, saying it’s brick squad, we’ve got to go hard, we’ve got to break bricks if we want to win. I don’t know what it means.”
No, but McPhee knows it’s meant as motivation. Dixon is one of the most self-motivated people I’ve ever met, and he’s got that perfect blend of enthusiasm and dedication, something I wish I had more of (especially the dedication part).
“I know Anthony has had some issues,” said coach Dan Mullen, referring to an offseason DUI arrest, “but he comes to work every single day. At practice, his intensity, how hard he practices on the field, how hard he trained during the offseason – you can’t replace those things and the effect that has on your program and on game day.”
It’s easy to let Dixon’s megawatt smile and goofy nature overshadow his dedication to football and to MSU. He does what he loves, and he loves what he does.
And he can’t wait to bounce out of bed each day to do it again.
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