Kenneth Dixon has probably gotten himself more acquainted than expected with the Dallas Cowboys over the past six weeks.
The former Louisiana Tech standout spent a week working with the Cowboys’ coaching staff at the Senior Bowl last month, and is now crossing paths almost daily with Cowboys running back and fellow Arkansas native Darren McFadden, as both are working out at Michael Johnson Performance, an athletic center in McKinney. Dixon was a three-star recruit out of Strong High School in Arkansas where he was named “Mr. Football” in 2011.
The Cowboys Nation hasn’t been scared to reach out to Dixon on social media, as the Cowboys should be looking to improve their running back situation this off-season.
That’s nothing against McFadden, who resurrected his career a year ago with a 1,089-yard campaign with the Cowboys and is signed for next season. But he will be 29 when the season starts and has battled plenty of injuries throughout his career.
Being in the Senior Bowl, working with [the Cowboys coaches], they showed me how to be more technical with my blocks. They showed me how to hit the hole and be more patient.
Kenneth Dixon, running back draft prospect
So Dixon could be an intriguing option at some point in the draft.
“I see [Cowboys’ fans comments] all the time,” Dixon said. “They always mention the Cowboys. They have some great coaches there. Coach Gary Brown, he’s a great guy. Coach Garrett, he’s a great guy also.
“Just being in the Senior Bowl, working with those guys, they showed me how to be more technical with my blocks. They showed me how to hit the hole and be more patient and everything. There are some great guys there.”
The 5-foot-10, 213-pound Dixon has the credentials to excite a fan base. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in three of his four seasons, becoming Louisiana Tech’s all-time rushing leader with 4,480 yards, and set an NCAA FBS record with 87 career total touchdowns (subsequently broken by Navy QB Keenan Reynolds).
Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech’s all-time leading rusher, set an FBS career record by scoring 87 touchdowns. It was surpassed later in the season by Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds.
He was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, which begins Tuesday.
The Star-Telegram caught up with Dixon at MJP:
How beneficial is it to see a player such as Darren McFadden here?
I’ve chatted with McFadden a lot. He’s from the same state I’m from, Arkansas, so growing up I watched him a lot, how he ran at Arkansas and everything, him and Felix [Jones]. Just to see him come in here after their season and get right back at it, it just shows you that the grind never stops. You just want to be something like those guys.
Where have you improved the most since coming to MJP?
I would have to say my 40 [yard dash] time. Coming in, I was probably around a 4.57, but I just want to shock people at the Combine. I’m not going to say my time, but I definitely improved my 40 time. I’m just ready to go out there and show people that I can run fast.
Do you ever check draft projections?
I really don’t try to check too much. My agent looks at it a lot. I try to keep my head focused and prepare for this 40 time, because I know that can set me apart from a lot of different type of running backs. … We all set a dream to be drafted. I don’t really have a goal to be drafted first, second, third round. If I go there, it’s great, but if I don’t, it’s also great. I’m just going to be part of a team and work my way up.
How would you describe yourself as a runner?
I would say I can do a little bit of everything. I can block. I got to get a little better at pass blocking. I can run between the tackles, I can run outside the tackles, I also can catch a little bit and make a guy miss in the open field. So I would say I can do a little bit of everything.
Who’d you try to emulate growing up?
Honestly, I looked at Marshall Faulk a lot. ... I would never try to compare myself to him or nothing like that, but if I had to say there was a guy I wanted to be like growing up, I would say him because of just the way he worked and the mental aspect he had. Just coming out of [high school in] New Orleans and everything when New Orleans was kind of in a bad time, just the way he persevered and everything. The things he saw, the way he worked, just trying to [be like] him.
Is it good to see other running backs from smaller schools have success in the NFL?
It’s not about where you go, it’s about what you do when you get there. That’s how I feel. Teams always take a chance and, if they take a chance on me, they’re going to get a great guy who is going to come in and work hard and try to compete for every position that he can play — special teams or if it’s running back, or if they want to ride me up in the slot, I’m going to do it. Just trying to be out there and be great.
Tuesda7-Feb. 29, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
TV coverage: Friday-Feb. 29, NFL Network