Dixon chooses the Black Knights of Army

Olympic High School senior Larry Dixon breaks a tackle during a game against North Kitsap High School in 2009. - Brad Camp/file photo
Olympic High School senior Larry Dixon breaks a tackle during a game against North Kitsap High School in 2009.
— image credit: Brad Camp/file photo

The challenge and the prospect of immediate playing time sold Larry Dixon on the United States Military Academy.

Now the Olympic High School senior belongs to one of the most prestigious institutions in the country, choosing to play football for the Black Knights of Army at West Point in New York.

He will celebrate the decision with family, friends and coaches during a signing ceremony Thursday at Olympic.

"The lifestyle, they told me up front, it's going to be different," Dixon said. "But I've always liked a challenge. The opportunities I'm going to have are just way too good to pass up."

The 5-foot-10-inch, 215-pound Dixon could become the focal point of a run-heavy offense, the Wing T, and was told by Army coaches he will be one of the team's "B" backs. That position requires both blocking and running, and Dixon is under the impression Army coach Rich Ellerson wants to use him as a "hybrid" of both.

That could mean up to 25 carries a game if Dixon becomes a starter.

"You can't argue with that," he said.

There will be no pressure on Dixon to bulk up or slim down because the coaches prefer he focus on getting better as a player.

If there's one knock on him, it's been his speed. Olympic coach Tim Allbee clocked Dixon running the 40-yard dash at 4.55 seconds.

"They came to me and they were like, 'We're not going to ask you to gain any weight, we're not going to ask you to lose any weight. We're going to ask you to be the best athlete you can," Dixon said.

The West Sound career rushing leader will join the football program this summer upon completion of a four-week basic training program.

His first season in pads will be with the West Point Prep School team, which includes incoming freshman recruits and acts as a redshirt season, not counting toward his four years of eligibility.

Army initially contacted Dixon more than a year ago, so the three-sport star is relieved to put the recruiting process in the past.

"You have no idea, man," he said. "You have a lot of people telling you one thing, then doing another, and it's sort of cutthroat."

Allbee said Dixon received interest from Texas Christian University, the University of Colorado, the University of Hawaii and some Pac-10 schools, including the University of Washington. Montana State University, the University of Idaho, Central Washington University and Eastern Oregon University also showed interest.

"The gamut really ranged from Division-III all the way up to D-I," Allbee said.

Wearing the purple and gold at UW would have been a dream for Dixon, who attended a few camps at the school last summer and worked his way up the depth chart.

But the attention he received from the Huskies slipped when coach Steve Sarkisian replaced Tyrone Willingham. Sarkisian eventually landed Deontae Cooper, a California back listed in most recruiting reports as a top-20 athlete at his position.

"It seemed like he was a lock when Willingham was there," Allbee said. "But they wanted that Southern California, speed-merchant type of back, fast as lightening."

Dixon finished his high school career with 5,222 rushing yards, a school and area record, and he carried the ball 219 times for 1,748 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2009. Olympic reached the Class 3A playoffs three seasons in a row with Dixon in the backfield.

"He's a legit D-I player and he belongs at a D-I school," Allbee said.

Dixon's ambitions reach beyond the gridiron.

He plans to study kinesiology, log the five years of required military duty upon graduation and then earn a master's degree, going into the branch of military intelligence.

Cadets at West Point earn about $600 a month, according to Army's Web site. Some of that money can be deposited into personal accounts, while the remaining portion goes into a "Cadet Account," which helps pay for uniforms, books, activity fees and other expenses.

A cadet's gross salary is subject to federal and state withholdings, according to the Web site.

The football team finished the 2009 season with a 5-6 record. Its 2010 schedule includes games against rival Navy, as well as Notre Dame University and the University of Hawaii.

"You're going up against teams who have the potential to be in the Top 25. When you're going up against that, it's like, 'Well, let's see how good I really am,'" Dixon said.

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