Washington cornerback Travell Dixon was a standout JC player who signed with Alabama. He says that wasn't a good fit and transferred to UW, where he was familiar with several of the coaches.
The recent news that Desmond Trufant will be one of 23 players to attend the NFL draft next week illuminated the void he leaves behind at Washington.
“We’re trying to find someone to replace Desmond,” defensive backs coach Keith Heyward said of Trufant, a four-year starter at UW and a potential first-round pick. “We’ve got to find a guy, or a couple of guys, to see if we can replace the productivity of Desmond.”
One intriguing possibility is Travell Dixon, a 6-foot-1, 190-pounder who transferred to UW in September from Alabama. Dixon had a brief stint with the Tide, signing in 2012 after two years at Eastern Arizona College, where some considered him the best junior college cornerback in the country.
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“He could have gone anywhere,” Heyward said of Dixon, who is originally from Miami.
Heyward, in fact, tried to recruit Dixon to Oregon State when Dixon was at Eastern Arizona and Heyward an assistant with the Beavers. So did UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox when he was at Tennessee, and UW defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi when he was at California. Heyward, Wilcox and Tupoi joined the UW staff in January 2012.
When Dixon made the decision to leave Alabama, he leaned on his connections with those three.
“If figured if three of the coaches were now on one team, it must be destiny,” Dixon said.
Dixon left Alabama in August. An Alabama newspaper report said Dixon was “falling behind” in the battle to get playing time. An official release at the time said he was leaving “for personal reasons.”
Dixon said Thursday he just felt Alabama wasn’t the right fit.
“The picture isn’t what it seems unless you are in it,” he said. “I’m not knocking ‘Bama, they are a good team. Coach (Nick) Saban was a good coach. But I had to do what was best for my family and take care of my family in the future.”
That’s a reference to Dixon’s belief that the style of play in the Pac-12 will better prepare him for the NFL, which he says is his ultimate goal.
“I feel like if God blessed me with the opportunity to go to the league, this conference and the way coach Heyward will teach me the cornerback position will help me,” he said.
First, though, is finding a role at UW.
Dixon spent last year on the scout team, so this is his first time working solely with UW’s defensive schemes.
He’s generally lined up with the second team, with senior Greg Ducre and sophomore Marcus Peters usually holding the No. 1 cornerback spots. Peters, though, is also being looked at as a safety.
After Thursday’s practice, Dixon said he would give himself a “C” grade for his play so far.
“I’m way better than what I’m doing right now,” he said. “I’ve got to work on my patience and getting the playbook down 100 percent so my game can really expand.”
Heyward said that grade was “a fair evaluation,” and noted that the transition from junior college can take a little time.
“He has the ability,” Heyward said. “He wasn’t working with all the techniques and concepts (on the scout team) so now he has a chance to do that and I’m just looking for him to do that consistently and play with a little more urgency.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org