When Travell Dixon signed with Alabama out of Eastern Arizona Junior College in time to enroll for the spring semester at The Capstone, the Crimson Tide had beaten out the likes of Florida State, Miami, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Arkansas. Scout.com listed him as a four-star prospect and the best junior college cornerback prospect in the nation. The consensus opinion of recruiting experts is that Dixon was brought to Bama to fill one of the cornerback spots vacated by the graduation of DeQuan Menzie and the early entry into the NFL draft of Dre Kirkpatrick.
But back in 2009, even though Dixon had led Dade County in interceptions with seven at Norland High School, his recruiting options were, in Dixon’s words, “I didn’t have any. I only played one year of high school. I was under the radar. I took the route of junior college and just found myself. I’m still a young player, still learning the game. I feel like I’ve got a lot of growing to do.”
Dixon grew up a good bit at Eastern Arizona, where he was a first team junior college All-America last season. He had 39 tackles, four interceptions, four pass break-ups, and a fumble recovery in 2011. In 2010 he was all-region with 26 tackles and three interceptions.
Dixon, 6-1, 200, said that he chose Alabama because of “Nick Saban; his track record with junior college players and what he’s been able to do. And being a defensive backs coach, coaching me personally in practice every day. His ability to develop players and send players to the NFL.”
Dixon said he talked to Menzie, who assured the Tide newcomer that he had “made the right decision.” Dixon takes comfort in what Menzie has been able to accomplish at Alabama coming out of junior college. He also cited “Terrence Cody, James Carpenter, and they was they succeeded in this program
“I felt like I wanted to add to the tradition.”
Dixon did not play any sports in high school until his senior year. Until then, he said, he was doing “Nothing. Just going to school. Going to school and going home.”
But his brother, Yamari, knew that Travell was a good football player as a youngster and “told me to play and forced me to play.”
Now Dixon, said, “I thank him for the opportunity he pushed me for.”
Travell said that his goal in life was to be a firefighter, but his brother said not to tell anyone that, to tell people he wanted to be a football player.
“I guess that’s the dream I’m living now,” Dixon said.
Yamari played college football at Akron, where he was a safety and thought he was headed for football in the Canadian League. But on a night of celebration in Cleveland, Yamari was shot. “It was the wrong time,” Travell said. “He was paralyzed for three months. Now he’s living [football] through me.”
Yamari has improved and can run and trains with Travell when they are together.
Travell said that Yamari chose Travell’s route, through junior college and now to Alabama. “It was the best route for me,” he said. “It made me grow up faster and made me know myself better.”
He said his message to young people is based on his brother’s experience. “Watch the friends you are with and know your surroundings,” he said.
Dixon’s surroundings now are in great part Alabama football, the off-season program and beginning in March spring football practice.
Asked to describe himself as a cornerback, he said, “I’m very versatile. I’m very physical. I move quick.”