IRVING, Texas – Ahmad Dixon is a family man.
The former Baylor safety would connect to two members of that family by joining the Cowboys in the draft. The first is an actual relative.
"Growing up, I was forced to watch them," Dixon said. "My late grandmother, she's a die-hard fan. She watched every game. I don't care if she had to put up the rabbit ears or something, she made everybody in the house getin front of the TV and watch the Cowboys play. I've always had a little love for them in my heart, because of her. I enjoy watching them and I could see myself with a star on my helmet."
Despite his ties to the Cowboys, Dixon grew up a Ravens fan. He modeled his game after Ed Reed and later admired the play of Eric Berry. He respected their passion and their physical nature. When the ball was in the air, those players were going to be near it.
"When you zoom the camera in, you'll see those two by the ball almost every snap," Dixon said. "That's how I feel about my style of play."
Dixon tried to replicate those traits in his own game at Baylor, where he was a first-team All-American in 2013 and named unanimously to the All-Big 12 first-team. Dixon finished his career with 288 career tackles, 12 pass breakups and four interceptions, beginning mostly as a hybrid linebacker/defensive back before moving more full-time to safety. Dixon was fast and physical, which was also on display during Senior Bowl practices where about once a day he'd make a hit that would draw everyone's attention.
That would certainly help a Cowboys team which has searched for years for stronger safety play. Barry Church has become an unquestioned starter, and the verdict isn't out yet on a horde of young Cowboys at the position, including J.J. Wilcox, Matt Johnson and Jeff Heath.
But Dixon, who's projected by many to be a mid-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, could help with depth and would welcome that opportunity to play for the team he was once forced to watch as a kid.
The projected fourth-rounder was once a four-star recruit, ranked the No. 10 player at his position coming out of school. He had offers from most of the major powerhouse schools throughout the SEC and Big 12.
Dixon met with Art Briles, who described the family atmosphere of the program, saw the high draft picks coming out of his hometown school and wound up choosing Baylor, where his friend's father, Brian Norwood, was the defensive coordinator. Dixon was born and raised in Waco, Texas, and the school felt like home. It was home. The team became family, which mattered most to Dixon.
He knows he could get a similar feeling playing next to his old teammate, Terrance Williams, in Dallas.
"That's my boy," Dixon said. "I talk to him on the regular, we keep in contact. He's like a big brother, mentor to me."
Just a year prior, Williams was on the same field Dixon found himself in late January in Mobile, Ala., showcasing his talents to scouts and coaches at the Senior Bowl. Williams was also hoping he would land in his hometown state, which obviously wound up happening.
Dixon said rejoining Williams would make him feel 100 percent comfortable in his transition to the NFL.
"First of all, I'm a family man, and Terrance is like family to me," Dixon said. "To have him with me would be good and to be close to home would be good."
Most of Dixon's family is still right around Waco. The aggressive safety would like to be close to home, but he wouldn't be opposed to travelling anywhere if another team deems him worthy in the draft, because he knows his family will have his back.
"Football is what I love to do," Dixon said. "I'm prepared for anything, even if I have to go all the way across the country. I'm not worried about that. I know for a fact I'll be able to have my family, they'll be able to get to me no matter what. That's all that matters, as long as I can get to my family."
He'd only be a short drive away if he winds up in Dallas.