The Blackshirts are getting a potential impact player sooner than later.
Nebraska announced Thursday that outside linebacker Breon Dixon has been ruled eligible to play immediately following his transfer in January from the University of Mississippi. He will have three seasons of eligibility.
Dixon's path to a waiver looked favorable last month when the NCAA granted immediate eligibility to Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson, also a transfer from Ole Miss who had requested a waiver.
A spring standout for the Huskers, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Dixon moved from safety to outside linebacker and earned strong reviews from the coaching staff. In the Red-White Spring Game, he logged eight tackles (two for loss) and half a sack.
Gods plan it’s all a blessing.. see ya in the fall Husker Nation ‼️☠️ #BackToWork 🤫— Breon Dixon (@Breondixon_4) May 10, 2018
The Huskers have several options at outside linebacker, but Dixon would almost certainly figure heavily into their defensive plan for 2018. Outside linebackers coach Jovan Dewitt had his defenders work in pairs this spring. During the one practice that was open to media (for about 30 minutes), Dixon worked opposite junior Alex Davis, who also is regarded as a leading candidate to play a prominent role.
Dixon was one of the few players in the position group that Dewitt said is a natural in space — meaning he could be very helpful in pass coverage as well as in rushing the passer. Several of the other outside backers were recruited as defensive ends for a 4-3, so rushing quarterbacks comes more naturally than coverage responsibilities.
“Having good spatial awareness when you’re out in space, to the field (side) especially, it’s really about being able to see multiple things and having good peripheral vision and not just locking in on one aspect of it,” Dewitt said during spring ball. “So good space players have the ability to see multiple things happening at the same time and understand how they adjust to it. Players that look like they struggle in space tend to lock in on one key the entire play and that’s all they look to follow, so they look a little stiff and robotic at times in space.”
A four-star prep linebacker from Loganville, Georgia, Dixon starred at Grayson High School, same as Nebraska inside linebacker Mohamed Barry. Dixon then played in six games as a true freshman for Ole Miss in 2017, making five tackles and recording a quarterback hurry against Tennessee-Martin.
Thanks to a standout career at Grayson, Dixon drew interest from schools throughout the SEC. Outside the conference, he took official visits to TCU and Louisville before settling on the Rebels and enrolling in January 2017.
Ole Miss is facing a bowl ban and scholarship reductions in 2018 after the NCAA penalized the school following an investigation into impermissible benefits. The school served a self-imposed bowl ban in 2017 after coach Hugh Freeze resigned in the summer. The self-imposed penalty wasn’t enough for the NCAA, which tacked on another season.
Ole Miss was cooperative with Michigan while the Wolverines worked to secure Patterson’s immediate eligibility and there’s no reason to assume the school wasn’t with other players looking to play right away. NCAA transfer rules ordinarily dictate that players must sit out a year if they’re an undergraduate transfer.