By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Anthony Dixon couldn’t have scripted it any better.
Growing up in the Jackson area, Dixon followed the San Francisco 49ers as they won championships behind Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jerry Rice. Entering this year’s NFL Draft, the Mississippi State running back crossed his fingers that his favorite team would call his number.
They did. With the fourth pick of the sixth round – 173rd overall – Dixon was selected by the 49ers on Saturday.
“This is my favorite team. You ask anybody that’ll talk to you and they’ll tell you that,” Dixon told reporters in a conference call. “I’m so happy right now I don’t know what to do.”
Dixon, who starred at Terry High School, will step into a situation that could see him contribute fairly quickly. The 6-foot-1, 235-pounder will join a backfield that includes Frank Gore, Glen Coffee and Michael Robinson. Gore is the starter and a proven veteran, but he’s had a history of injuries.
Dixon rushed for a school-record 1,391 yards last season and led the SEC in rushing yards per game (126.5). He finished his career with school records in rushing yards (3,994) and rushing touchdowns (42).
“I feel like I can be an every down back for them,” Dixon said. “I’m coming in now trying to assume my role.”
Dixon revealed to reporters that his family had twice been homeless during his childhood, and he saw football as his way out.
“Ever since I was about 10 or 11, I’ve been fighting and trying to provide for my family and my brothers, and I guess it’s just finally coming true,” he said. “I’m just happy right now. It’s been tough.”
Dixon was the first Bulldog drafted by an NFL team since 2007, when defensive lineman Antonio Johnson was selected in the fifth round by Tennessee. With former MSU teammate Jamar Chaney, a linebacker, going to Philadelphia with the 13th pick of the seventh round, it was the first time since 2005 that more than one Bulldog had been drafted.
Philadelphia was one of the teams Chaney, who was the 220th player taken overall, visited leading up to the draft.
Chaney led MSU with 90 tackles last season, was defensive MVP of the Senior Bowl and ran the fastest 40-yard time among linebackers at the NFL Combine, causing his stock to rise.
Some analysts projected him to go as high as the third round.
MSU receiver Brandon McRae said on his Twitter page that he was going to try catching on with St. Louis as a free agent.
No need for Snead?
After the 2008 season, Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead was projected by at least one national writer as the first pick of the 2010 draft. But after a season that saw him throw 20 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, Snead exited school a year early and wasn’t taken at all in this year’s draft.
Soon after the draft ended, there were media reports that Snead had signed a free-agent contract with Tampa Bay.
Snead completed 54.4 percent of his passes for 2,632 yards as a junior.
Two other Rebels did get the call on Saturday: safety Kendrick Lewis and defensive end Greg Hardy. Lewis went to Kansas City in the fifth round (136th overall), while Hardy was taken by Carolina in the sixth round (175th).
Lewis, who led Ole Miss with 84 tackles last year, rejoins ex-Rebel teammate Dexter McCluster, who was taken by Kansas City in the second round.
“After I got picked,” Lewis said, “he was one of the first ones to text me and the first thing he said was ‘It’s on, let’s make it happen.’ That’s what we plan on doing.”
Hardy had five sacks in nine games, as he was limited by injury.
Ole Miss had four players drafted in all. Besides McCluster, offensive lineman John Jerry went to Miami in Friday’s third round.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.