Five Troup Tigers sign to play football at the next level, including Dixon to Clemson and Birdsong to UCF

Published 8:00 am Thursday, December 21, 2023

On Wednesday at Troup High, the Tiger football team held one of the biggest if not the biggest signing day in program history as four seniors — Qua Birdsong – University of Central Florida, Noah Dixon – Clemson, Isaiah Hall – Eastern Tennessee State and Taeo Todd – Georgia Southern — and one member of the class of ‘23 — Qua Moss – the University of West Georgia — signed to play at a Division I level. 

It was a special day for all those involved as the Troup gym was packed out despite the school being on Christmas break.

“This a phenomenal crowd and it is a testimony to these guys that there are so many people in attendance,” said Tanner Glisson, Troup High’s head football coach.

There were no last-second changes of hearts, no surprises and no frills, all four high schoolers stuck with the team they’d been committed to for months.

Birdsong — initially committed to the University of Central Florida — flipped to UCF over the summer and never looked back.

“Coach (Ernie) Sims stole me from Cincinnati, I’m not going to lie,” Birdsong said. “After taking a visit, I locked in with coach Sims and coach Gus (Malzahn) and that sealed it right there.”

Birdsong will be the third Troup Tiger Malzahn has brought to Orlando. It will be a reunion of sorts in just a few months time as he becomes teammates with Kobe Hudson and Buddy Wortham once again.

“It makes me feel more comfortable going six hours away because there are going to be some familiar faces,” Birdsong said. “It feels good knowing I already have some brothers there.”

The Knights are getting a rangy linebacker who might be a bit undersized now but will fill out that frame when he gets to a college gym.

“I’m a pass rusher and a run stopper,” Birdsong said. “I might be skinny, but I like being in the box and I’m going to come and hit you, and I can cover if I need to. A real versatile player.”

Birdsong finished his senior season with 79 solo tackles, 42 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and a forced fumble. He tallied a whopping 261 total tackles, 81 tackles for a loss and 23 sacks during his career at Troup High. 

A lot of colleges and universities pursued Dixon in the final hour of recruiting, but the senior safety never wavered. Clemson felt like home since he committed all the way back in January.

“The principals that Clemson has really connected with me and my family,” Dixon said. “When me and my mom stepped on campus it felt right. I could have went anywhere else, but Clemson always felt different.”

Despite having NIL deals and other promises from major universities, Dixon’s word is his bond.

The accolades and stats speak for themselves. The hard-hitting safety was named to the Touchdown Club of Atlanta’s All-State first team. It is a prestigious list that features the best 11 players in the state on defense and Dixon was one of them.

Dixon finished third on the team in tackles and had an interception to his name on the defensive side of the ball. He was named athlete of the year in Region 4-4A for his play.

“He was tremendously special,” Glisson said. “We could put him anywhere. He can play receiver, safety, quarterback, wherever.” 

Dixon did not just make an impact on defense and finished the season as the team’s leading receiver with 483 yards while also adding 182 yards on the ground and 15 total touchdowns.

Clemson fans likely already know about Dixon’s exploits on the field, but what separates him from many of his peers is the commitment and leadership he brings to a program behind closed doors.

“I could list a thousand things he did for us and a lot of them won’t rear their ugly head until he is not here anymore,” Glisson said. “It’s about how he talks to his teammates, the way he helps his younger brother, the way he treats the trainer… We are better because Noah Dixon is part of our family here at Troup High School.” 

As an early enrollee, Dixon will be arriving on the Clemson campus in the new year.

“I’ve been committed since January, so I’ve just been itching to sign,” Dixon said. “I’m early enrolling, so I will be up there in January. This has been something I’ve dreamed of and it’s finally coming true.”

This day has been a long time coming for Dixon, but for a player like Hall, he was unsure if he would see the day. The senior offensive lineman blew out his knee during his sophomore season, unsure if his dreams of playing Division I football would become a reality.

“After my ACL surgery I was depressed and hurt and never thought I would be here at this moment,” Hall said. “It took a lot to get here.”

Hall persevered, returning his junior year in which he developed into an all-state player. 

As a senior, Hall was a team captain and a leader in the locker room and especially for the offensive line. He helped the team run for 2589 yards and pass for 1300 yards as a senior.

“It was a wild journey,” Hall said. “It means everything to me to be here right now with all my brothers.”

Despite missing all but three games during his senior season Todd’s legacy will live forever in the halls of Troup High. He put together one of the most accomplished football careers in the school’s history. 

For his career, he rushed for 4,249 yards on 491 carries (a career average of 8.7 yards per carry and 121.4 yards per game) and 51 career rushing touchdowns. Todd also passed for 4,156 yards (259/440 – 118.7 per game average) and 46 career touchdowns. 

Todd made a quick impression as a freshman earning MaxPreps freshman all-american honors with 1,457 yards on 141 carries and 11 touchdowns while passing for 726 yards and five touchdowns in 11 games. 

In Todd’s junior season, he led the Tigers to a 12-2 record, the first region championship in 36 years and a spot in the 4A state semi-finals. he rushed for 2,012 yards on 232 carries and 27 touchdowns, while also passing for 2,444 yards and 29 touchdowns. Todd was recognized as the 2022 region 4-AAAA player of the year, the Recruit Georgia AAAA all-state team, the Georgia Public Broadcasting 4A all-state team, the Georgia High School Football Daily 4A player of the year and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution 4A player of the year.

“In the entire history of Georgia high school football, there has been only one quarterback to rush for over 2,000 yards and pass for over 2,500 yards and hs is standing right here,” Glisson said. “That is a tremendous accomplishment.”

Todd committed to Georgia Southern before a leg injury knocked him out for the season in week three. The Eagles never gave it a second thought which continually made Statesboro feel like the right spot.

“They were reaching out and talking with me constantly, they stayed in connection with me after my surgery,” Todd said. “I see how much trust they had in me.” 

Todd will be making the switch from quarterback to running back, where he joins a talented room at Georgia Southern.

“Being a quarterback puts a lot of pressure on you, so now I won’t have to worry about the same amount of stuff which will let me stay calmer during the games,” Todd said. 

Moss spent his freshman year of college at Dodge City Community College as a full qualifier. Moss went the JUCO route to build himself up to be a player worthy of a Division I offer. It took him all of six months. 

“It is hard going though JUCO,” Moss said. “I had to focus on my work and just take my time to be the best version of myself every day. It is an honor to come back here and sign to a Division I school after just one year in JUCO.”

The freshman cornerback spent the season in Kansas building himself up, but now has a chance to play a little closer to home.

“It’s going to be really fun seeing my friends and family support me living my dreams,” Moss said. 

The Troup High Tigers had four of their players from the class of ‘24 sign on Wednesday, but there are plenty more to come in the new year.