Rock Hill, S.C. native Gerald Dixon Jr. is set to enter his fourth season with the South Carolina football program. Since redshirting during his freshman season, Dixon Jr. has played in 24 games, starting five, and served as the number three defensive tackle behind J.T. Surratt and now-New York Giant, Kelcy Quarles.
With the departure of three of last year’s four starting defensive linemen, this, Dixon Jr.’s redshirt junior year, should have been his chance to shine in a starting role, potentially becoming the next big name on the South Carolina defense. Unfortunately for Dixon Jr., Abu Lamin may have something to say about that.
The JUCO (Fort Scott C.C.) transfer possesses an uncanny combination of speed and size that made him a force in junior college, and, many hope will make him the next Gamecock standout, like Quarles before him. The hype surrounding a kid with this much talent was tremendous, and with the early departure of Kelcy Quarles, it seemed like all that he would have to do was live up to the hype.
Considering that Gamecockcentral writer Scott Hood dubbed this spring, the “Spring of Abu Lamin”, it’s safe to say he made an impact.
The 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive tackle earned “Rex Enright Defensive Player of the Spring” honors, and while that may seem like ample precedent to name Lamin the starter unequivocally, Gerald Dixon Jr. will have a chance to make a statement of his own when fall practice begins in less than three weeks.
Many coaches use the spring to cultivate young talent and get reps for incoming players or backups, meaning that Lamin, who was working with the South Carolina playbook for the first time, likely received most of the attention and reps during the spring. Currently, Dixon Jr. is atop the depth chart as the defensive tackle next to J.T. Surratt, who is firmly entrenched as a starter, despite the excitement surrounding Lamin. The coaching staff understands that, in the SEC, raw talent is not enough. Even Jadeveon Clowney had to spend a year learning the playbook and Lorenzo Ward’s system before he became and every-down lineman.
After three years in the program, Dixon Jr. knows the defense as well as anyone, but he will be tested, and the position battle waged for that defensive tackle spot will be far from a formality.