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Dixon makes defenses dread playing UConn

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Dixon makes defenses dread playing UConn

Posted: October 23, 2007

STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Andre Dixon was sweeping past a Louisville defender during the first quarter Friday when he was pulled down by the dreadlocks flowing from under his helmet.

That happens on occasion, Dixon said, but it's not going to make him change his signature hairdo.

"It's just a part of the uniform to me," Dixon said. "Just go ahead and grab 'em, it doesn't hurt at all."

More often then not, a reach for Dixon's bouncing locks ends with a fistful of air. "Dreads," as he teammates call him, ran for 115 yards against the Cardinals. That included a 5-yard touchdown run with 1:32 left, completing the Huskies' rally from a 10-point deficit to a 21-17 win.

For the season, Dixon, with his sprinter's speed and Samson-like hair, has rushed for 443 yards in five games, averaging just under 6 yards per carry.

"He's quick, he's fast, he's powerful, but the thing he has is a lot of heart," said quarterback Tyler Lorenzen. "That's what makes plays, heart and will, and when he decides to get in the end zone, he just finds a way."

Dixon has become a favorite of teammates and fans alike, with supporters wearing dreadlocks wigs and holding up "Dreads" signs every time he touches the ball.

Coach Randy Edsall has even joked that he may don dreadlocks this Halloween.

Edsall on Tuesday named Dixon as the starter when Connecticut (6-1, 2-0 Big East) takes on No. 11 South Florida (6-1, 1-1) Saturday. He will switch roles with fellow sophomore Donald Brown, who was expected to be the Huskies workhorse this season.

Brown burst onto the scene in the middle of last season and ran for 896 yards, averaging over 135 yards in his five conference starts. But he has been banged up this year, and has run for just 366 yards.

"He has just been pressing way too much," Edsall said. "I think he's over-thought things and he's over-analyzed things. He just needs to get back to being Donald Brown, being that guy who played with that chip on his shoulder as he did a year ago."

Edsall emphasized that both backs will play against the Bulls. The coach says he's been impressed by Dixon's blocking, pass catching, and maturity. This is the same Andre Dixon whom Edsall suspended for the first two games of the season for an unspecified violation of team rules. Since then, Edsall said, Dixon has shown a commitment to himself and the team.

"He learned from some other people's mistakes that allowed him to say, 'This is the path that I want to go down, this is the direction I want to go,"' Edsall said.

Dixon said he also learned how much he needs football, a game he says took him from the streets of New Brunswick, N.J., where many of his peers were involved in drugs and guns.

"I could easily get caught up in those things," he said. "For me, getting this opportunity to get away from that was amazing."

Amazing is also a word many have used to describe Dixon' snake-like dreadlocks with their blond tips (he bleaches the ends, then uses blond hair dye, and yes, a football writer asked). Dixon said the hair has no special powers, but is a reflection of his personality.

"It's all about excitement to me," he said. "I like to have fun, and I like to make other people have fun at the same time."

Even if that means getting your hair pulled on occasion.

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