Quiet Sam Williams-Dixon making lots of noise on recruiting scene

Quiet Sam Williams-Dixon making lots of noise on recruiting scene

Image Credit: File

West Holmes sophomore Sam Williams-Dixon is described by teammates and coaches as having a selfless, quiet personality.

When Williams-Dixon steps onto a football field, though, his combination of size, speed and athleticism make him the center of attention without saying a word.

In fact, he’s being called the biggest football recruit in West Holmes history.

Even a casual football fan could see No. 24 was special as he rushed for 1,526 yards and 25 touchdowns last fall while racking up 997 receiving yards and 10 scoring grabs. He helped lead the Knights to a 14-1 record and the first Final Four appearance in program history.

Williams-Dixon didn’t have to say anything to get noticed by football scouts working at the Best of the Midwest High School Combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 28. His performance said it all.

The 17-year-old stopped scouts in their tracks at the invite-only event and had them scrambling to tell coaches near and far about him.

“It’s nice seeing my name everywhere,” Williams-Dixon said. “My times and stuff are out there everywhere now. It shows how hard I work, and I’m thankful that people are looking at me.”

The 6-foot, 195-pounder ran a 4.53 time in the 40-yard dash — the average of four scouts’ hand-timed stopwatches. One scout clocked him at 4.44. He also excelled in other drills.

Cincinnati, Kentucky, Boston College, Akron, Toledo and Ball State have all offered scholarships to Williams-Dixon, and that appears to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Recruiting analyst Mick Walker of @247Sports Tweeted, “One prospect who stole the show (at the Midwest Combine) was West Holmes (Ohio) 2024 running back Sam Williams-Dixon. He ran a 4.53 forty while also jumping 9’2 in the broad. Not to mention the numbers he put up last fall, gonna be a star!”

Winding road to Millersburg

Williams-Dixon was born in Columbus and eventually followed a winding road to Millersburg.

Kevin and Carrie Maltarich, along with their children Kaili (now a college student), Kyle (sophomore) and Cooper (seventh-grader), welcomed Williams-Dixon into their family several years ago as he and Kyle became like brothers.

Williams-Dixon and Kyle Maltarich excelled as freshmen on the Loudonville varsity football team in 2020 under the tutelage of then head coach Kevin Maltarich, but after that school year ended, the Maltarich family opted to switch to the West Holmes district.

Williams-Dixon, aka SWD, flourished in his first year under Knights’ coach Zach Gardner’s offensive system and was named Div. III first-team All-Ohio while also playing a big role on defense. After a strong start, Kyle Maltarich was lost for the season due to a hip injury suffered in week four. He has since healed and is excelling along with Williams-Dixon on the track and field team this spring.

The Maltarich family welcomed Williams-Dixon’s younger brother, freshman Elijah, to live with them prior to the start of this school year.

The family lives in a recently constructed development right across the street from Kevin Maltarich’s alma mater, West Holmes, where he played under his dad, retired coach Bob Maltarich. Bob guided the Knights from 1986-2002, and Kevin worked as head coach from 2010-15.

The welcome mat one sees at the Maltarich front door tells visitors what they’re especially passionate about. It reads, “This family loves football season.”

“I love it here because we’ve got a house full of athletes,” said Kevin Maltarich, who’s also been a head coach at Norwayne and Madison but is content these days cheering on Gardner & Co. from the stands and working with his boys on the side. “It’s a roller coaster because sometimes they love to tell me stuff and other times they want to run downstairs and hide because I’m constantly on them about getting better.

“It’s easy for everybody that’s around to say, ‘West Holmes should be really, really good this year,’ but if you don’t work hard and do the right things, then it doesn’t go anywhere.”

With four teenage boys in the household, food prepping for the week is serious business in the Maltarich household. On a typical Sunday, Kevin Maltarich prepares 34 burgers, 12 chicken breasts, 12 chicken thighs and a half-dozen pork or beef steaks. They’re usually all gone by Thursday.

Add in sides like cheesy potatoes, pasta salads, fruits and 6 gallons of milk a week and Carrie practically oversees a commercial kitchen.

SWD puts West Holmes on the map

You’d have to go all the way back to Joe Norman, a 1975 West Holmes grad who went on to play linebacker for Indiana and the Seattle Seahawks, to find a Knights’ recruit who played in the Big Ten.

“Joe was a great player, but even he didn’t get offers like Sam’s getting,” said Pete Norman, Joe’s brother and a WQKT sports announcer. “I’ll tell anyone who asks that Sam’s the biggest recruit in West Holmes history.”

The day after Williams-Dixon’s combine performance, Kevin Maltarich received a message that Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford wanted to talk.

“(Alford) wanted to know everything about Sam,” Kevin Maltarich said. “Since then we’ve visited Ohio State and Penn State. Offensive coaches have followed Sam on Twitter from schools like Notre Dame, Tennessee, Kentucky and more.”

Gardner said the entire program is excited about the recruiting interest in Williams-Dixon.

“We’re just trying to do right by Sam and each and every athlete on our team,” said Gardner, who owns a 36-25 record in five years leading the Knights. “Sam is kind of quiet, but he’s a great teammate. He fits in very well with our team culture.”

Williams-Dixon and Kyle Maltarich both held part-time jobs at the Millersburg Walmart last year. Customers routinely came up to Sam and asked questions about football, and some even asked for an autograph.

“Sam is nice to everyone,” Kevin Maltarich said. “It makes me feel good that he’s not only a great football player, but he’s humble. People take notice, and that’s what puts them in his corner.”

Buzz around town

Maltarich is a car salesman at Village Motors in Millersburg. Truth be told, he’d probably rather talk to people about selling them a car — remember that grocery list — but he’s friendly if they stop in just to talk about the latest West Holmes football news.

“People are excited to have a top-notch athlete here at West Holmes like no one we’ve ever had before,” he said.

With the spotlight on Williams-Dixon, scouts also are taking note of other Knights, like Kyle (6-3, 190 wide receiver/safety) and Elijah Williams-Dixon (6-4, 200 defensive end).

All the Knights follow the lead of SWD, whose dreams are growing bigger by the day even if he doesn’t talk much about them.

“I’m kind of a quiet person,” he said. “I really don’t say too much until people say something to me.”

That doesn’t mean SWD isn’t appreciative of the opportunities before him.

“It’s nice to have people who love me and have my back,” he said.

For those who know what kind of person Williams-Dixon is and where he could go, they’d say, “right back at you!”

The best is yet to come for SWD and the Knights, and they’re all enjoying the ride.

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