Height: 6-3 Weight: 215 Age: 32
Born: 1/11/1985 Oakland , CA
Selected By: Pittsburgh Steelers
Pick (Overall): 21 (156)
After biding his time as the Oregon backup, Dennis Dixon was firmly entrenched as the Ducks' starter in 2007, when he gained national recognition as he returned Oregon to be ranked among the nation's elite. But after lifting Oregon to a prominent BCS position, Dixon suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Dixon tried to play one week after suffering the injury against Arizona State, but was forced to the sideline against Arizona, missing the team's final three games.
Despite his injury, Dixon was named Pac-10 Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Until he was hurt, he was considered a favorite for the Heisman Trophy.
Dixon was named one of three finalists for both the Maxwell Award and the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award in 2007. In addition, he was selected as one of 15 National Scholar-Athletes by The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame and is a finalist for the Foundation's Draddy Trophy. Ever the team-first athlete, he rejoined the squad as a student assistant coach, mentoring his replacements at quarterback during the final weeks of his college career.
One of the most mobile passers to play at the university, few quarterbacks in school history displayed the explosiveness or versatility of Dixon. He demonstrated the physical gifts consistent with "special" players and possesses a great arm, erasing the misconception that his passing skills were marginal compared to his running ability.
In the 2005 offseason winter conditioning program, Dixon posted the fastest clocking in the 40-yard dash (4.49) of any quarterback in the history of the Oregon program. His 3.81 timing in the 20-yard shuttle during spring drills in 2007 was the third-fastest mark among Oregon all-time passers. He also displayed impressive strength during his senior year, improving his power clean to 264 pounds and was also timed at 6.91 seconds in the three-cone drill.
At San Leandro High School, Dixon was a two-sport standout, excelling in football and baseball. He was the top vote-getter (eight votes) among quarterbacks on the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Best of the West list and earned Parade All-American honors as a senior, leading the team to an 11-1 record in 2002. That year, he completed 164 of 268 passes (61.2%) for 2,736 yards and 30 touchdowns.
The three-year starter compiled a 36-3 record and was named to ESPN's Top 100 team (ranked 94th overall and 12th at quarterback). During his career, he amassed 5,951 aerial yards while throwing for 79 touchdowns. He was regarded as one of the state's best prep outfielders in baseball and was selected in the 20th round of the 2003 major league baseball draft by the Cincinnati Reds.
Dixon decided to take a year off from academics after graduating from high school in 2003 and did not enroll at the University of Oregon until the 2004 winter semester. He played in six games that season, as a reserve behind Kellen Clemens. He hit on 6-of-15 throws (40.0%) for 73 yards and carried ten times for 40 yards. He also recorded an assisted tackle.
Dixon garnered Academic All-Pac-10 Conference honorable mention in 2005. He struggled initially after replacing an injured Kellen Clemens in the starting lineup for four games and appeared in 11 contests. The sophomore managed 777 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions on 69-of-104 attempts (66.3%). He accounted for 143 yards and a score on 49 rushes (2.9-yard average) and participated in 153 plays, gaining 920 yards in total offense.
Dixon was again an Academic All-Pac-10 Conference choice, this time earning second-team honors. He started the first 11 games, but suffered a concussion vs. Arizona that forced him to sit out vs. Oregon State and into reserve duty vs. Brigham Young in the Las Vegas Bowl. He connected on 197-of-322 tosses (61.2%) for 2,143 yards, 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Dixon had a string of pass attempts without an interception that began during his sophomore year snapped at 161 in the third game of 2006. He also showed his mobility, ranking third on the team with 98 carries for 442 yards (4.7-yard average) and two scores. He posted two solo tackles and generated 2,585 yards in total offense on 416 plays.
With his first season as a starter complete, Dixon returned a much different, more confident player in 2007. Prior to his injury, he led the Pac-10 in passing efficiency by completing 172-of-254 passes (67.7%) for 2,136 yards and 20 touchdowns with just four interceptions. He also was dangerous as a runner with 105 rushes for 583 yards (5.6-yard average) and nine touchdowns.
Under Dixon's direction, Oregon led the Pac-10 in both scoring offense (36.7) and total offense (462.1). He was named Pac-10 offensive player of the week three times this season following Oregon victories vs. Michigan, Stanford and Arizona State. He ranked fourth nationally in passing efficiency, a key statistical benchmark for quarterbacks, and had directed Oregon's spread-option offense so well that the Ducks were ranked second in the Bowl Championship Series standings, putting them in position to possibly play for the national title.
With Dixon sidelined, the offense struggled, losing three of their final four contests.
In 39 games at Oregon, Dixon started 25 times. He registered 5,129 yards with 38 touchdowns and 21 interceptions on 444-of-695 passes (63.88%). He rushed 258 times for 1,208 yards (4.7-yard average) and 12 scores and also recorded three tackles (two solo). He participated in 953 offensive snaps, gaining 6,337 yards in total offense (162.49 yards per game). He was sacked a total of 24 times for losses of 131 yards and turned the ball over five times on 14 fumbles.