SALT LAKE CITY — Jaylen Dixon was a bit of an unknown to Utah fans at the start of the 2018 season, his redshirt freshman season, but by the end of the year, everyone knew his name.

The 5-foot-9 receiver from Frisco, Texas, burst on to the scene last year, ending the season with 598 yards — the most receiving yards of anyone on the team other than Britain Covey.

“It went good. I felt like I showed some things that I could do and showed some big-play potential. I feel if I can just continue to do that, the sky is the limit,” Dixon said of his redshirt freshman campaign. 

“Everybody knows JD for his speed, but he’s gotten a lot of confidence. He’s developed into a receiver. I’d say last year, he was just an athlete — just speed, quickness — but this year, he’s learning how to play receiver.” — Utah wide receiver Britain Covey, on Jaylen Dixon

Dixon is known for being one of the fastest guys on the team, Utah’s premier deep-ball threat. Last season, he hauled in long passes of 61 yards (Colorado), 49 yards (BYU) and 41 yards (Northern Illinois). 

“I’ll go as far as to say he’s one of the best deep-ball threats I’ve ever coached, and that’s saying a lot, having had 23 NFL receivers,” Utah receivers coach Guy Holliday said. “His acceleration to the football is second to none that I’ve seen, unless you are Greg Jennings, Reggie Barlow, those guys were high round draft picks for me. (Dixon’s) speed when the ball is in the air is impressive.”

“He’s a fast guy on the edge, creates separation and makes plays on the edge,” teammate Solomon Enis added. “He’s definitely a go-to guy when you need a deep shot.”

Four games into the 2018 season, Dixon felt like it all clicked for him in Utah’s 42-10 win over Arizona, where he had a 39-yard reception in the first quarter that set up a Utah touchdown.

“That just made me realize I can do this in a Power Five conference,” Dixon said. 

Dixon’s favorite game last year was the Utes’ 30-7 win over Colorado, where he put up a career-high 125 receiving yards, scored a touchdown and fulfilled his dream of playing in a snow game.

Dixon and quarterback Jason Shelley, who took over after Tyler Huntley’s injury against Arizona State, were high school teammates at Lone Star High School in Texas, and that chemistry carried over into college, where he was often Shelley’s favorite target. The number of receptions increased, going from one or two a game earlier in the season to four against Colorado, seven against Washington and nine against Northwestern.

“Being high school teammates helped with that, just having that chemistry going on,” Dixon said.

It wasn’t all positive for Dixon last year. In the Arizona State game, he had a ball bounce off his hands in what looked like it was going to be a sure touchdown, but it was picked off by Aashari Crosswell. Against BYU, he only had one catch for -4 yards and had two fumbles against Northwestern. 

This season, Dixon is trying to nail down the details to become a better receiver.

“I think it was just focusing on the small things, the details of everything and realizing that that’s the most important part of a play is just the small things,” he said. 

Holliday and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig have seen improvement from Dixon over the offseason. 

“He’s matured, grown up a lot on the field,” Holliday said. “On the field, he’s doing extremely well and he’s just growing as a person overall.”

“He’s really refining his skill set as an every down wide receiver,” Ludwig said. “He played in special situations, special packages last year. He’s really refining the mechanics and the details of being a wide receiver, his ball skills are excellent, he runs extremely well, so we’re really excited to see him playing on the perimeter for us a lot more this year.”

Dixon has gotten rave reviews from his teammates, too.

“He’s funny, energetic. He always has energy somehow, some way, even after long practices,” Enis said. “He’s a good guy and he cares about everyone.”

“Everybody knows JD for his speed, but he’s gotten a lot of confidence. He’s developed into a receiver. I’d say last year, he was just an athlete — just speed, quickness — but this year, he’s learning how to play receiver,” Covey said. “He’s really worked on his craft and it’s fun to watch. You could put him at all three receiver positions — outside right, outside left and slot — and he knows what to do.”

Dixon will have his opportunity to show off his revamped skillset when Utah takes on BYU in just two weeks’ time. 

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