There will be many stories told regarding this season’s edition of the Ohio State Buckeyes, and one of them began well over a year ago.
Following the 2016 season — another essentially lost to injury — OSU wide receiver Johnnie Dixon was at a crossroads. He was thinking about giving up the game, and giving up the final two years of his eligibility.
He had worked so hard his first three seasons and had just seven catches and 10 times the heartbreak to show for it.
Johnnie Dixon was done.
Until he wasn’t.
Dixon leaned on his teammates, particularly classmate Parris Campbell. He told his friends what he was going through and what was going through his mind.
He was looking for answers, so Campbell gave him two.
“I told him either to stop, or show how much perseverance you have to use it as an example,” Campbell said.
You saw how the 2017 season went. You remember the two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the epic comeback win against Penn State. And you saw the six other touchdown catches as well.
Dixon decided to stick with the sport and he finished with 18 receptions for 422 yards and eight touchdown catches last season. While playing less than 50% of the snaps.
That’s how you get a story to start picking up its pace. But now Dixon may just be getting to the good parts.
“Obviously he came back and did that,” Campbell said. “He had a great season last year and is going to have another great season this year. Just for him, it’s going to be a story he can tell for the rest of his life. Younger athletes and younger people to see how he persevered through.”
The knee problems that Dixon had to go through aren’t the kind you typically hear about in football. This wasn’t an ACL or a meniscus. It was recurring tendinitis and arthritis. Surgery — and hours upon hours of rehab — got Dixon’s knees right, but it was Dixon who had the drive to endure it all.
That endurance now drives his teammates.
“For me personally, it meant everything,” Campbell said. “Because we had those conversations, we talked about it. Just how close it was to letting it all go. It would have been heartbreaking because he wouldn’t have had that season last year. Who knows what he would have been doing.”
One thing is known, he wouldn’t have been streaking into the end zone twice against Penn State, and the Buckeyes likely wouldn’t have come away with a win for the ages.
Every touchdown Dixon scored last season — including the two against the Nittany Lions — were felt by more than just the guy scoring them.
“It meant a lot to me,” Campbell said. “Felt great every time he crossed the end zone because he got his passion back, he got his love for the game back, and it was great to see.”
And this season, the rest of Johnnie Dixon’s story gets written for everyone to read.
Listen to the crowd erupt as J.T. Barrett hits Johnnie Dixon for a 10-yard TD to cut Penn State’s lead to 39-33. pic.twitter.com/wRmznMx1PC
— Ozone Communications (@theOzonedotnet) October 29, 2017