South Carolina football 2014 preview: Gerald Dixon, Jr.

With 92 days left until the 2014 season kicks off, we profile South Carolina's No. 92.

Gerald Dixon, Jr.
Redshirt junior defensive tackle
6'3, 325
Rock Hill, S.C.

Recruitment:
3 stars, 91st defensive tackle in 2010 class

Other offers:
Maryland

College Career:
Despite it being suspected that Carolina mainly offered Dixon, Jr. in an effort to sign his more talented friend and high school teammate Jadeveon Clowney, Dixon, Jr. has turned out to be a solid player for Carolina. After redshirting as a true freshman, Dixon, Jr. played in nine games in 2012, starting two in place of an injured Kelcy Quarles. One of those starts came against Tennessee, where Dixon, Jr. logged a season- and, at the time, career-best three tackles. He had 12 total tackles on the season. In 2013, he raised those 12 tackles to 18 over the course of playing in 12 games, including a start in the opener against UNC. His four tackles against UGA were a career best.

2014 Outlook:
Dixon, Jr. enters the summer before his redshirt junior season on the second team fighting for playing time in a crowded defensive tackle rotation. There's every reason to believe he'll receive his fair share of playing time as part of that group, given that he's performed reliably in a backup role the past two years and enters this season as one of the more experienced members of the group. In fact, given that Phillip Dukes has hardly locked down his role as a starter, don't be shocked if Dixon, Jr. earns a starting spot at some point.

Trivia:
As you've probably already noticed, there are two Gerald Dixons on the Gamecocks roster: the Gerald Dixon, Jr. we've been discussing and Gerald Dixon (without the "Jr."). You might have also noticed that both are redshirt juniors, having graduated at the same time, albeit from different schools, the one we've been talking about from Northwestern and the other from South Pointe. Apparently, Gerald Dixon, Sr. got two women pregnant in the same year and convinced them both to name the kids after himself. The other Dixon, by the way, is slated to start at defensive end this season. Their father played at Carolina himself.

Beat writer's terrible double-meaning lede:
The name "Gerald" dates back to a medieval Germanic term referring to "rule of the spear." Tennessee's Marlin Lane came to know the meaning of the name better than he would have preferred after Gerald Dixon, Jr. delivered multiple vicious hits to Lane over the course of a dismal offensive outing for the Vols.

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