Best Of The Decade:
Oregon's top 10 players of the 2000s: #2 - Dennis Dixon
By Brian Elder KVAL Sports
One of the most electrifying players in UO history comes in at number two.
Let's just get this out in the open: Dennis Dixon should be the number one player on this list. The only reason he isn't is because his incredible senior season was tragically cut short.
If Dixon's ACL holds up on a hit from an Arizona State defender, he would have become the first Oregon player to win the Heisman Trophy, and the Ducks would have played for (and very possibly won) the national championship in 2007.
Ironically it was an injury on the very same field where his Oregon career ended that he was first thrust Dixon into the starting lineup for the Ducks. When Kellen Clemens broke his leg against the Arizona Wildcats in Tuscon, Dixon came on in relief. But his debut didn't last very long, as he was knocked out of the game with a concussion just four snaps in.
But things got better for Dixon from there, as he started the next three games and led the Ducks to a 3-0 finish to the regular season, capped off by a 56-14 win over Oregon State to grab just the third 10-win season in school history at the time.
His junior year began with much promise, as he led the Ducks to a 4-0 start, which included a dramatic comeback against Oklahoma where Dixon found Brian Paysinger for the winning touchdown in a 34-33 victory.
The season took a bad turn the next week, as Dixon struggled against California in Berkeley - near his home town of San Leandro - and the Ducks stumbled to a 7-6 finish to the season. Dixon was often booed by the home crowd as the team struggled, and he was even benched in favor of Brady Leaf for the final two games of the year.
Dixon was drafted by the Atlanta Braves after the season, and some wondered if he would return to Oregon as he spent the summer playing in the minor leagues.
Not only did he return to the Ducks for his senior season, he returned as a more mature player who was ready to lead Oregon to new heights. Under the guidance of new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly, and at the controls of his spread-option offense, Dixon was nearly unstoppable.
In the first game of the year against Houston, Dixon showed off his jaw-dropping athleticism with an 80-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He finished the game with a then-school-record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 141.
But it was the next week that Dixon caught the attention of the rest of the country, and instantly became a Heisman candidate. Facing a Michigan team that most expected to come out breathing fire after being upset by Appalachian State the week before, Dixon put on a performance for the ages.
If there were any doubts about his ability as a passer, they were erased with a perfectly thrown 85-strike to Brian Paysinger in the first quarter to stun the 100,000+ at the Big House. Dixon later produced one of the plays of the year in college football, when he faked the Statue of Liberty play to Jonathan Stewart and ran in untouched for a nine yard score. But he wasn't finished. He later found Derrick Jones for a 61-yard touchdown pass, and capped off his day with a 46-yard touchdown to Jaison Williams.
It was one of the most dominant offensive performances in the history of Oregon football. The Ducks put up 624 yards on the heralded Wolverine defense, and 368 of those came courtesy of Dennis Dixon. He was named the USA Today National Player of the Week for his effort.
Dixon had many other memorable performances that season. Against USC at Autzen Stadium, Dixon kept the mighty Trojan defense frustrated with his mobility as the Ducks picked up a 24-17 victory.
The next week, against Arizona State, Dixon threw for four touchdowns in front of the ESPN College Gameday crew and with a national television audience watching. Oregon handed the Sun Devils their first loss of the season 35-23, but as it turns out the Devils were the ones who did the most damage.
Late in the game, Dixon was scrambling when an ASU defender hit him directly on the knee. Dixon crumbled to the turn in pain, but he was able to get up and trot off the field under his own power. He had torn his ACL, but he convinced the coaching staff to allow him to try to play in the next game at Arizona.
Dixon appeared to be fine when he darted 39-yards to the endzone on a fourth down play, but when he tried to cut on his injured knee a few minutes later, his knee buckled, and his spectacular season and career both came to a sudden end.
Despite the injury, Dixon was the unanimous choice for the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, and he even finished fourth in the Associated Press National Player of the Year voting. He finished sixth on Oregon's all-time total offense list with 6,339 yards, and he finished eighth in passing yards with 5,129.
Dixon went on to be drafted in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008.
Tale of 3 Taxes
Storm clouds help make some beautiful sunrays before and during sunset. These were taken 05/21/2013 around the Salmon Harbor Marina.
While I was in Winchester Bay to take sunset photos Sunday night, I saw such a huge number of seagulls soaring very high in the sky. There were tens of thousands of them and they were flying hundreds of feet in the air.
I always enjoy attending these reenactments. Especially since at one time I was a member of this group. A really nice bunch of people.