Just over two years ago, Johnnie Dixon nearly quit football.
After three seasons of lingering knee injuries that sidelined him more than he was able to play or practice, the thought entered Dixon's mind that perhaps he would never be healthy again, and it would be best to walk away from the game.
"Yeah honestly, I kinda had that feeling at the (2016) Fiesta Bowl," Dixon said during fall camp in 2017. "I felt like it might be over from here."
Once he got back to Columbus and reconsidered for a couple of weeks, Dixon ultimately decided to give his health one more chance in 2017 spring practice. Now, he'll likely look back on that spring as a turning point in his life.
“The biggest thing is I'm just happy I didn't give up.”– Johnnie Dixon
Healthy for the first time in his college career, Dixon showed off the potential he always had that spring, culminating in six catches for 108 Yards and two touchdowns in front a packed Ohio Stadium during the 2017 Spring Game.
From there, he was back. Dixon was a regular part of the wide receivers rotation in both 2017 and 2018, racking up 60 catches for 1,091 yards and 16 touchdowns in those two seasons.
Dixon went from quitting football altogether to 1,000 career receiving yards at Ohio State. And now he has a real chance to make it at the next level.
"The biggest thing is I'm just happy I didn't give up," Dixon said on Friday at the combine. "I would've let myself down, my family, so I'm just blessed to be in this position today to be at the combine among so much great talent."
Dixon's biggest asset as a football player, particularly coming out of high school, was his speed. He was viewed as a lethal deep threat and one of the fastest prospects in the 2014 class.
But after battling tendinitis in his knees for of his five seasons in Columbus, there was some doubt about whether he still possessed that speed. Dixon made it a goal to show everybody that he "actually is fast," despite the injury history.
Dixon ran a blistering 4.41-second 40-yard dash, the eighth-fastest time of the 48 wide receivers participating in the combine. It was a damn fast time that will certainly improve his draft stock, but more than that, it put a lot of doubts to rest.
Injuries took three seasons from him, planted seeds of doubt in his mind, stole his confidence and hindered his development. But that 40 time proved he's still every bit the player he was before he was sidelined and that all his NFL dreams are still very much within reach.
It hasn't been an easy journey. Dixon has faced more adversity the past few years than most players face their entire careers, but it's made him work even harder and hang onto every moment, because he knows where he is right now was just a distant dream two years ago.
"It's just a blessing, you know?" Dixon said. "It's nothing short of a blessing."