As icebreakers go, Kerry Dixon had a pretty good one. Telling a wide receiver, “Hi, I’m going to help you catch way more passes” has a way of making an impression. So it went for Dixon, Georgia Tech’s new wide receivers coach.
“Just excited about the change and being more primary than (tertiary),” Dixon said of the receivers’ response to meeting him. “I know they’re extremely excited about it. You could just feel the excitement.”
Handpicked by coach Geoff Collins to coach the Yellow Jackets’ wideouts, Dixon will train players who will be a part of an offense in which formations with four wide receivers is common, and offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude’s scheme completed 252 passes last season at Temple. That’s almost as many as Tech completed in the past four seasons combined.
He likely will be developing a group that includes seven scholarship returnees at the position, three incoming freshmen and possible additions from other positions. A-backs such as Omahri Jarrett and quarterback Tobias Oliver could be strong candidates to play slot receiver. Through observation of winter workouts and video review, he’ll have to begin to figure out who can play outside receiver or slot or both.
“Right now, we’re just asking them what position would (players) feel like they would play,” Dixon said. “Best fit, and then once we go through workouts and go through the spring, we’ll be able to better evaluate whether those (A-back) guys are fitting at slot or whether they fit better at (running) back for us. It’ll be a lot of fun, I think.”
Dixon, 36, is eager for that challenge, as well as to help lift Tech’s recruiting. Dixon’s ability to recruit was one of Collins’ primary reasons that he asked him to join him from Toledo, where he was running backs coach in 2018. Dixon was wide receivers coach from 2015-17 at Florida, where he worked two seasons with Collins, who was defensive coordinator before going to Temple after the 2016 season.
In 2016, Dixon was named a top-25 recruiter for that year’s class by Rivals. Dixon’s primary recruiting areas in Florida and Texas. He also has ties in the state of Georgia.
“When coach Collins called me and brought me in, I was fired up because I know with his energy, his juice, it doesn’t matter who you compete against,” said Dixon, who is married with three children. “We have everything in the world here that you could sell, and we’re excited about the future.”
In a statement announcing his hire, Collins lauded Dixon’s work ethic and attitude. They are qualities that he has revealed at least since he was a high-school quarterback at Booker T. Washington in Houston.
His position coach and offensive coordinator was Clarence McKinney, now the head coach at Texas Southern, an FCS school. McKinney remembered him as a superior student who was studying to be an engineer and tutored teammates, a quarterback who studied the game “as much as a kid in high school could,” put in his time in the weight room and made time to throw with his receivers.
“Just remember a young, gangly kid who was eager to learn the game,” said McKinney, who has been a mentor to Dixon along his climb up the coaching ladder.
One college playing career (at Baylor and then at Hampton) and 10 coaching jobs later, Dixon is now the one providing knowledge, overseeing a position in flux for the Yellow Jackets.
“I think he’s going to demand his guys to play the right way, play at a high level,” McKinney said. “I think he’s going to love them up. That’s the kind of player he was.”
When McKinney and Dixon communicated after his hire at Tech, McKinney told him that he had a great job at Tech, because of the conference affiliation, surplus of local talent and the school’s academic might.
“You have what you need to be successful there,” McKinney said.
Said McKinney, “He agreed with me.”