Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon running away from the crowd
It’s true when he breaks off a big gainer — the 5-10, 213-pound senior has made runs as long as 99 yards in his career — and true when his goals, just as big, are considered.
He wants to play in the NFL. He just doesn’t want to think about it. Not too much and not yet, with the Bulldogs (2-2) playing out a schedule that includes a visit by Louisiana-Lafayette (1-2) on Saturday.
“I can’t worry about something I never had,” he said. “Most definitely it’s a goal, but I do not think about it. … You try to focus on the task at hand.”
It appears he has succeeded in doing that. He has rushed 73 times for 524 yards (7.2 yards per carry) this season, with five touchdowns. He has 13 receptions for 154 yards and two more TDs.
His rushing total is the eighth-best in FBS. He is the Bulldogs’ all-time leading rusher with 3,934 yards. And he has 67 career receptions, which only increases his appeal to that league he doesn’t really want to think about.
“Kenneth Dixon is a stud,” Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz told reporters after last week’s 27-17 victory over Florida International. “I do not think we realize what a special player he is. I think we will look back and say, ‘I remember when Kenneth Dixon was doing that in a Louisiana Tech uniform.’”
Dixon ran 25 times for 169 yards against FIU, his 20th career 100-yard game. He scored two touchdowns on the ground and another courtesy of a 23-yard reception, the 11th time in his career he has notched three or more TDs in a game. That’s the second-most in NCAA history. That performance earned him a spot as one of ASN's Player of the Week nominees.
His 68 career touchdowns are sixth all-time, his 58 rushing TDs 10th.
He said he is most proud of the yards he gains after contact — how the first tackler almost never brings him down — and just as proud of the fact that he is part of a larger whole.
“Our team works really hard,” he said. “Offensive line comes out, they bust their ass every play to try to give me some open holes. … It’s a brotherhood, man. It’s always good to have trust in the next person.”
And it has led to some spectacular moments. One of his touchdowns against FIU came on a 63-yard run; his 99-yarder came last season against UL-Lafayette, this week’s opponent.
Asked what it’s like to bust off a big one, he didn’t mince words.
“It’s kind of great,” he said.
Great, he added, in that so much preparation by so many people pays off. Great in that everyone works in concert.
“Then,” he said, “I’m off to the races. My biggest thing is not getting caught, because my first two years I always got caught when I broke away.”
Growing up in Strong, Ark. (pop. 651), he played quarterback, then made the transition to his current position upon arriving in Ruston.
“It was a big adjustment,” he said, “just trying to read different things and just trying to see my reads and not trying to read the whole field like a quarterback normally does.”
He rushed for 1,194 yards as a freshman but slipped to 917 the following year, when he was slowed by a knee injury. (“It was very frustrating,” he said.) But last season he bounced back with 1,299 yards and 22 touchdowns, as well as 30 receptions.
He’s continued on from there, and the clamor around him is only growing. Kenneth Dixon tries not to notice. He’s just plowing ahead, hoping not to get caught from behind.