Jaquan Dixon has been a household name for the last four years — not just at Green Sea Floyds High School but in Class 1A athletics.
The senior now leaves a legacy that many high school athletes dream to create.
During his time on the gridiron, Dixon led the Trojans football program to playoff appearances in three out of his four seasons, including back-to-back state championships in 2018 and 2019. On the diamond, Green Sea Floyds went 52-23 in Dixon’s four years and made it to three Lower State championship appearances, including state runners-up in 2019.
For Trojans baseball coach Bradley Strickland, Dixon has certainly made his mark throughout the region.
“Green Sea didn’t make Jaquan Dixon. Jaquan Dixon made Green Sea,” Strickland said.
But his greatness doesn't stop on the football field and baseball diamond.
“He does care about his community,” said Donnie Kiefer, former Green Sea Floyds football coach. “He does care about his teammates and about the staff. He cares about his family. He’s the kind of guy that will pick everybody up and bring everybody to a different level. He’s one of those guys that makes everyone around him better. And I think that’s a testament to an elite athlete.”
Kiefer describes Dixon as a young man who's appreciative of those who have pushed him to where he is today — an all-around athlete headed to Georgia State University.
Dixon had a batting average of .405 during his time with the Trojans, along with recording 42 RBIs and having 52 stolen bases. Almost half of those stolen bases — 25 — came during his senior year.
Despite the rings, the wins and all the accolades, Dixon would always remain humble.
“Even though he was a great player and he set himself apart, even statewide, I think he would tell that he could not do it by himself,” Kiefer said. “It wasn’t like he carried the program; he was one of the cogs in carrying that program to greatness.”
Dixon ran for over 4,800 yards during his time at Green Sea Floyds and his 419 receiving yards pushed him a few yards shy of eclipsing the 5,250 all-purpose yard mark. Despite the massive numbers that Dixon put up over the years, Kiefer said those numbers could’ve been a lot higher.
“If we would have run Jaquan like a feature tailback like the number of carries that a lot of high school kids get, he would have had phenomenal numbers,” Kiefer said. “I mean he had phenomenal numbers anyway but he would have had outrageous numbers. There were some games he was running 200 yards on 12 carries whereas some prolific tailback might carry the ball 30 times, 28 times, that kind of thing. He did a lot more with a lot less carries.”
Dixon started playing sports at five years old, starting out with t-ball and flag ball.
“I signed him up,” Alicia Dixon, Jaquan’s mother said. “I knew that’s what boys do. Keep ‘em busy.”
Alicia Dixon said while she was more of an “arts and dance” type of person, she learned to quickly understand the sports world that she introduced her son to.
“It grows on you,” Alicia Dixon said, with a laugh.
The passion Jaquan Dixon had that helped Green Sea Floyds become state champions is a passion that has always been there. It was something that his mother saw in him at an early age. Jaquan Dixon always seemed to keep working on his craft, whether it be by himself or with his uncle or younger brother.
“I noticed that after we left from football practice or a game, he’d be right back outside,” Alicia Dixon said. “He’d be right back out playing with his uncle and his little brother. He tried to teach his little brother what he do.”
As he worked on becoming the best, Dixon’s mother kept reassuring him that he was destined for greatness.
“I always said ‘Jay, you’re going to be in the NFL, you can make it to the MLB,’” Alicia Dixon said. “I knew one day Jay was going to make it.”
Before Jaquan Dixon arrived to make his mark at Green Sea Floyds, the football program was going through a string of rough seasons. The Trojans suffered a losing season every year from 2008 to 2015, the most victories coming in 2010 with four wins. That rough patch also included a winless season in 2014.
Then came coach Kiefer, who joined the Trojans staff in spring 2017. Kiefer said that while Jaquan Dixon was still in the eighth grade during his first year as head coach, Dixon made the effort to reach out by coming by the weight room one day to introduce himself.
“He was outgoing and a good kid,” Kiefer recalled. “He seemed like he was ready to go get going.”
The young athlete had the ability to pick up on skills quickly, a skill Keifer saw early on in Jaquan Dixon.
“He’s an intelligent kid,” Kiefer said. “He’s the guy that understands concepts, understands what you’re trying to do. He sees the big picture as well as understanding what his responsibility is on everything.”
Kiefer said Jaquan Dixon is not selfish.
“He did a great job blocking for the other backs,” Kiefer recalls. “He did a great job carrying out fakes and stuff."
Jaquan Dixon's intelligence and knowledge of the game was also one of the many things that he gained once he made the transition from middle to high school.
“He got a lot more mature while around the high school guys,” Alicia Dixon said. “He started understanding what football really was. He had some idea of how it was but he really started understanding what it was when he got around the big guys and everything.”
In his freshman year, Jaquan Dixon ran for 328 yards on 77 carries, finding the end zone only five times. The team went 6-6 but Jaquan Dixon felt that something special was coming.
“Since a young kid, I’ve been looking up in the stands and seeing the big crowds. So why not make something happen?” Jaquan Dixon said. “When you’re a ninth grader in high school looking to change the environment, looking to bring more people, that’s exactly what we did. We knew exactly what we had to do.”
The following year, Dixon burst onto the scene, rushing for 1,807 yards on 184 carries, scoring 26 touchdowns on the ground while leading the Trojans to their first-ever state championship.
During that season, Strickland realized how special Jaquan Dixon really was while the team ran a play called “bump sweep.”
“He was in an all-out sprint it looked like. He took his first three, five steps hard like you’re supposed to and he put his right foot in the ground and he cut it north and south and all of a sudden he seen flow coming to him,” Strickland recalled. “He took one step, it wasn’t a hard juke or anything, he took one step and crossed over, and he hit the opposite side of the field because he saw flow coming to him and I thought ‘man, you cannot teach stuff like that.’ When I saw him crossover and go, there wasn’t anyone within 20, 25 yards of him when it was all said and done.”
The speed and acceleration Jaquan Dixon is something Kiefer said he has rarely seen in a play during his 30-plus years of coaching.
“He’s one of quickest acceleration guys, going from a dead stand still to a full speed,” Kiefer said. “His acceleration is as good as anyone’s that I’ve ever seen. His acceleration is just phenomenal.”
That speed is something Jaquan Dixon always had, his mother said.
“He had that speed ever since he was five years old,” Alicia Dixon said. “Heath Elliot was his coach and he said ‘Go, Robot, go!’ and once he said ‘go, Robot, go,’ Jay took off. I was like ‘man, he’s really, really fast!’ They also called him ‘Wheels’ sometimes, too.”
In that first state championship for the Trojans, it came down to the final play of the game as a sack on fourth down solidified a 26-20 win over Lamar.
“Those last three minutes we knew the Trojans were going to win,” Alicia Dixon said. “It was just joy. Joy just came off.”
The impact that the team had the small but tight-knit community could be seen as parents, students, and alumni celebrated the milestone victory. Alicia Dixon said that when the team got back to Green Sea from Columbia that night at around 2 a.m., the entire parking lot of the high school was filled and even Sugar Bears, the small convenience store across from the high school, was “packed.”
“It was off the chain,” Alicia Dixon said. “It was so amazing to see the community pull together and come together and do something special for all those young guys on that team that night.”
In his junior year, Dixon outdid himself rushing for 1,825 yards on 29 less carries than the year before, making him average 11.7 yards per carry. Dixon also recorded 186 receiving yards that season, pushing him over 2,000 all-purpose yards in a single season. The Trojans went 12-1 that season, their lone loss to a tough Aynor squad.
Dixon recalled the regular season matchup versus Lake View as one of his favorite games from his career.
“Second time we got on offense, I got the ball, cut up and down the sideline and I took off. Gone. Scored that first touchdown,” Dixon said, a big grin on his face. “Second time I got the ball, started itching, running over people, and then I reach across, scored and got lit. I remember getting to the sideline, we got so lit. The energy was just out that game.”
For Strickland that speed and acceleration was the focus of one of his favorite moments of Dixon during the second state championship game in 2019 versus Ridge-Spring Monetta.
“Just to watch him go,” Strickland said. “He left everybody. I mean, he left everybody. He showed that he was alpha male out there. I don’t know if he got touched. I mean, I’m sure he got tackled at some point in the ball game but I just remember seeing him break run after run.”
A month after bringing home a second state title, Kiefer stepped down as head coach and eventually took the head coaching gig at West Ashley High School. Joey Price was eventually named the head coach for the Trojans later in March.
Kiefer said that he and Dixon still stay in touch.
“We still communicate by text and I’ll talk with him on the phone every now and then,” Kiefer said. “He’s always still real humble and just says ‘love you, coach’ and ‘I appreciate everything.’ He’s not somebody that just takes people for granted. He has a humility about him, even though he’s exceptional and even though he’s a very talented and elite player, I don’t think he takes his friends, teammates, and his coaches for granted. A lot of people will. A lot of people are all about themselves. But I don’t think that’s him.”
While his senior year was not what he would’ve wanted, missing out on the playoffs, Dixon still put the work in, rushing for 875 yards in just six games in the shortened COVID-19 season. Should a full 10-game regular season have been played, Dixon could’ve reached over 1,450 yards on the ground.
While the Trojans were making their run through Class A playoffs this past spring, Dixon always made the time for the next generation of ball players, even during games, most notably the East Clarendon game. The Trojans were in a must-win situation and but you couldn’t tell if the pressure was even fazing Dixon as he answered questions from inquisitive youngsters behind the fence.
It’s a moment that Strickland says it shows “down to earth” Dixon is.
“He tries to stay grounded,” Strickland said. “He tries to stay humble and it shows. The fact that he stays grounded and doesn’t get big-headed speaks volumes of him and I know he’s going to be missed. He’s going to be very, very missed.”
Dixon said he always felt good interacting with the younger generations within the community.
“It just feels good to talk to little kids, you know?” Dixon said. “Make them happy, make their days more joyful and put a smile on their face. Throw a ball with them, play catch with them, do something. It just feels good to brighten people’s days. I like being there for little kids.”
Dixon said that those interactions with young fans is something he doesn’t plan to stop doing.
“I’ve been doing it for a while,” Dixon said. “I just like making people’s days better.”
Dixon received two offers — one from North Carolina A&T and another from Georgia State — when his senior season came to an end. There were a litany of reasons that Dixon’s family and coaches as to why the Trojans star was recruited less.
“Everyone used to be looking for that great back but even some D2 schools told ‘Well, we’re only taking one back,’ and that kind of thing,” Kiefer said.
Kiefer said that he tried to sell Dixon hard but the offers weren’t piling up.
“I don’t know what it was,” Kiefer said.
Alicia Dixon believes that the pandemic played a major role in her son’s lack of offers, citing that many camps that were scheduled that Dixon hoped to attend were cancelled. With barely any camps available for Dixon, the exposure he would have gotten from those events dwindled, leaving only the shortened 2020 season as his main source of exposure.
Still, Alicia is grateful for Georgia State taking a chance on her son and giving him the opportunity to succeed.
“I hope that when he gets there, he does what needs to do and go out there and ball,” Alicia Dixon said.
Dixon’s mother said that he told her that teams are “going to wish that they would’ve got Jaquan Dixon.”
“He’s going to make a difference,” Alicia Dixon said.
On June 7, Dixon met the entire incoming class of 2021 for the Panthers and while its unclear if head coach Shawn Elliot will redshirt the Trojan-turned-Panther, Dixon, who will wear number 18, is ready to make his mark. Dixon is planning to major in sports communication while at Georgia State.
Dixon said that he plans to try out for the Panthers baseball team to keep himself occupied in the spring. Having another sport under his belt something that his mother said he’s always been about.
“He likes to stay busy,” Alicia Dixon said. “He’s been playing baseball since he was five years old so it’s in his blood.”
As his time came to an end at Green Sea Floyds, Dixon reflected on the years spent in the school and on the field. He said that he wished that time slowed down a bit as he got closer to graduation.
“There was times ninth grade to twelfth grade where I was like ‘I’m so ready to graduate,’” Dixon said. “It never slowed down, though. It kept flying by.”
With Dixon now taking talents to Atlanta, he will forever be grateful for his time as Green Sea Floyds Trojan.
“I appreciate them for not losing faith,” Dixon said following the end of his senior year of football. “Thank you to the fans and the community for being behind us every step of the way.”