April 28, 2010

Potential is sky-high for Clinton-Dix

The Alabama Crimson Tide landed one of the top overall prospects in the nation when Florida-native Hasean Clinton-Dix pledged his commitment to the Tide the weekend of the A-Day spring game. Those who have spent time around the 6-foot-2, 190-pound athlete have called the multitalented star one of the most versatile prospects in the Sunshine State for the Class of 2011.

"The biggest thing about Hasean is that he's a playmaker," said Rodney Wells, Clinton-Dix's head coach at powerhouse Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando. "His versatility, his size and his strength just give him the ability to do things other players can't do. We blitz our safeties a lot and he's able to make so many plays in the backfield and on the edge but at the same time you can stick him on a slot receiver and have him play man to man coverage. There's not too many guys who have the athleticism to pull that off."

"The Alabama coaches thought he could play cornerback or safety but I think he'll end up playing safety in college just because he's the ideal size for the position."

Wells said the Crimson Tide coaches identified a very specific spot for Clinton-Dix to fill when he arrives in Tuscaloosa, based on his similarity to one of the Tide's current star players.

"We're obviously not as complex but we run a similar defense to what Alabama runs, the same basic principles anyway. I know the guy that the Alabama coaches compared him to pretty often was Mark Baron. I think they see Hasean playing the role Baron plays now once Baron has moved on. They are really cut from the same mold physically."

Clinton-Dix has come to be recognized as one of the top defensive back prospects in the nation but it took some time for Wells and his staff to figure out that the secondary was the right spot for him.

"When we first got Hasean, he was a transfer student who played running back at his previous school. He wasn't happy on offense. He basically begged us to put him on defense. At first we didn't really know where to put him but we finally stuck him in the secondary and from there he excelled from Day One."

While Clinton-Dix gets plenty of attention on the field from frequent big plays, Wells said the junior doesn't like to draw attention to himself with off the field antics.

"He's a real calm kid for the most part. He doesn't say a lot, he lets his actions do the talking. When he speaks, people listen and they respond to him in a big way. He's a natural leader because of his tremendous skill and he has stepped into that role very well."

Clinton-Dix's discipline and leadership skills may serve him well outside of football as well should the elite prospect choose to pursue a future career outside of football.

"Hasean has always been into criminal justice," Wells said. "He loves it, watches 'Law & Order' all the time. He talked to Alabama a lot about their law school and I think that was really a strong selling point for them with Hasean. If football doesn't turn into a career for him, I think he's really serious about pursuing a legal career and he knows he can do that at Alabama."

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