Lakeside's Dixon Revell punts against Westside on Aug. 27.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Dixon Revell lay on the field last fall after getting the worst of a collision with the Academy of Richmond County's Ibrahim Rashada.
Although it was a practice game, Lakeside High's Dixon wanted to drill Ibrahim, a running back now at Brigham Young University.
But Dixon was helpless on the field. He suffered a compacted vertebra that pinched a nerve in his neck.
Dixon didn't think much of the injury. The all-county safety even suited up the next week.
It was the last time he would ever play defense, though, the side of the ball he loved and played for five years.
After another hit, Dixon suffered a stinger (temporary paralysis in his arm) that forced him out of contact. He still hoped the effects of the August collision were temporary.
However, the problem wouldn't stop. He had reoccurring stingers, and doctors told him he should never play football again.
The former safety suffered a spinal injury last year, and his doctor and coach advised him not to play football anymore. He decided to try out for the punter position to minimize contact on the field.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
``Initially, I was devastated,'' Dixon said. ``Playing defense was something I always loved, and my doctor said I couldn't do it anymore.''
He said the doctor's advice would not hold him back.
The rising senior trained hard, hoping to build stronger neck muscles for a return to the gridiron this fall.
His doctor again advised him against it, and this time coach Randy Hill agreed.
"I wasn't going to let Dixon go out there and get permanently injured," Hill said. "Football just isn't worth it."
Dixon still wanted to be a part of the team and hoped to provide vocal and emotional support for the Panthers.
During the summer, though, something changed.
Dixon talked with some of the coaches and decided to try out as a punter, a position he had never played seriously.
"We thought he could provide an emotional leader for the team, and he turned out to be a pretty good punter," Hill said. "He's been booming them in practice."
Running back Carl Burrow said he thinks Dixon's presence provides a strong message to the rest of the team.
"It has been good to see someone who shouldn't be out there, still doing it because he loves it," he said. "Plus, he has been punting real well."
Dixon, who wants to attend the University of Georgia and major in pre-law or sports medicine, has embraced the new role and has even seen some of the contact he missed.
In a practice game against Butler, a defender ran into Dixon after a punt.
"I think my parents were a little worried," Dixon said. "He hit me pretty hard, though. I sat there for a second making sure everything was right. Coaches told me, 'Good job falling down.' I said, 'He really hit me hard.'"
Dixon got involved even more during a triple-overtime victory over Westside, making a form tackle.
"I've told Dixon to run off the field after a punt," Hill said.
Dixon said he feels that his inspired play can help his teammates.
"I want my teammates to see how much one person can love the game," Dixon said. "I also want them to play each play as their last because, for me, that one play was essentially my last."
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