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Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Updated: June 5, 10:38 AM ET
Dixon looking to have breakout senior season with Northwest

By Mike Loveday
ESPNRISE.com

Trying to catch Hassan Dixon (Northwest/Germantown, Md.) without a smile on his face is as difficult as catching him on the football field.

And the 5-foot-9, 170-pound junior has a lot to smile about lately.

Hassan Dixon
Dixon rushed for more than 1,000 yards in his first season at Northwest.

Most recently, Dixon placed third in the Class 4A 400-meter Maryland track and field championships, running a personal-best 49.62 seconds. His track accomplishments come after his first season in a Jaguars football jersey -- a season in which Dixon rushed for 1,026 yards and 14 touchdowns and helped Northwest to a playoff berth.

"He's a great young man. He carries very high grades, outstanding character and [he's] very smart," Northwest first-year head football coach Mark Maradei said. "It's going to be easy for him to pick up the system because it's nothing complex -- it's just a lot of execution. I have very high expectations for him."

Dixon came to Northwest after spending his first two years of high school at Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), and while he was a major reason the Jaguars made it back to the playoffs after a two-year absence, Dixon still believed he could have done better.

"I thought I did a little bit over OK," Dixon said. "I had to learn the plays, and I hit the wrong holes at first, but by the fourth game I started to get it down. I think I can do a lot better this year, and we'll see what happens."

Maradei's offensive scheme could be conducive to a breakout senior season for Dixon.

Under Maradei's spread offense at Rockville, sophomore running back Crusoe Gongbay rushed for 1,450 yards and 20 touchdowns last season.

Dixon will also have the advantage of having a three-year starting quarterback (Jarrhett Butler) handing him the ball and a four-year varsity tight end (Ali Tolson) attracting some defensive focus.

Dixon is still waiting on his first official offer, but colleges have shown the junior plenty of interest thus far.

Stanford coaches came to visit Dixon, and Florida, Maryland, Pittsburgh and Connecticut have also expressed interest.

Dixon is expected to return kicks again this season. Last year he returned 10 kickoffs, averaging 28.3 yards per return and returning one for a touchdown.

"He's got lights-out speed," Maradei said of Dixon's running ability. "One [other] thing I've liked about him on film is that he's not afraid to put his head down and stick it up in there."

"He's going to be our top playmaker, based on his past performance," Maradei added. "He's going to get his touches. No doubt about it."

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Mike Loveday covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com. Mike can be reached at Michael.Loveday@espn.com