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Dennis Dixon

Dennis Dixon at Autzen Stadium on October 31, 2009.
No. 2     Pittsburgh Steelers
Personal information
Date of birth: January 11, 1985 (1985-01-11) (age 25)
Place of birth: Oakland, California
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Weight: 200 lb (91 kg)
Career information
College: Oregon
NFL Draft: 2008 / Round: 5 / Pick: 156
Debuted in 2008 for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Career history
 As player:
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2009
TD-INT     1-1
Passing yards     148
QB Rating     62.0
Stats at

Dennis Lee Dixon, Jr. (born January 11, 1985 in Oakland, California) is an American football quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Steelers in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He played college football at Oregon.


Early years

Dixon was the starting quarterback for San Leandro High School's football team beginning his sophomore year. In his senior season of 2002, Dixon threw for 2,426 yards and 30 touchdowns, leading his team to a 12-1 season.[1] Dixon completed his high school career with 5,951 yards and 79 touchdowns, guiding San Leandro to a 36-3 record, with his only losses coming in three straight California North Coast Section 4A championship games to perennial powerhouse De La Salle.[2]

Dixon was a consensus 4-star recruit, and was ranked among the top passing and rushing quarterbacks in the nation. He eventually decided to attend the University of Oregon, stating that "I am going to Oregon with only one purpose, and that is to win a national championship."[1]

Dixon was also a highly recruited baseball player, and was initially drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 20th round of the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft.[3]

College career

Dixon opted to grayshirt (attend school part-time and retain eligibility) for the 2003 season and played his freshman season in 2004 behind Kellen Clemens.[4] He appeared in six games, passing for 73 and rushing for 40 yards. In his sophomore season of 2005, he was expected to play primarily in a backup role during Clemens's senior season. However, against Arizona, Clemens broke his ankle, and Dixon came into the game, though he later left with a concussion. With Clemens out for the season, Dixon split time with fellow sophomore QB Brady Leaf and guided the Ducks to four regular season wins and a second place finish in the Pac-10, before dropping a 17-14 loss in the Holiday Bowl against Oklahoma.[5]

Prior to his junior season in 2006, Dixon was named full-time starter by head coach Mike Bellotti. He led the Ducks to a 4-0 start, including a 34-33 comeback victory over the Oklahoma Sooners. After a win over Arizona State, the Ducks lost 48-24 to Cal before Dixon's hometown crowd. After being benched in favor of Brady Leaf, Oregon went on to lose three of their four final games and finished with a 7-6 record. Despite his shortened season, Dixon still finished the season fourth in the conference in total offense (219.3 yards per game). Dixon was named the league’s second-team academic all-conference quarterback. In June 2007, he graduated from Oregon with a degree in sociology and a 3.27 grade point average. [6]

In 2007, Bellotti again named Dixon, now a senior, the starter prior to the season. The season started off quickly for Dixon against Houston, in which Dixon accumulated 141 yards rushing, the most ever by an Oregon quarterback.[7] The following week against Michigan, Dixon threw for 3 touchdowns and ran for another, generating 368 yards of total offense. Dixon was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week and USA Today National Player of the Week.[8]

In the next two games, he led the Ducks to big wins over Fresno State (where he threw for two touchdowns and ran for another),[9] and Stanford (where he completed 27 of 36 passes for 367 yards and 4 touchdowns and ran for another).[10]

Against Cal, Dixon threw his first 2 interceptions of the season, but led the Ducks down the field in the final minute for a potential tying score before Cameron Colvin fumbled the ball through the end zone in the final seconds for Oregon's first loss of the season.[11]

Wins in the following weeks over Pac-10 powers USC and Arizona State pushed Oregon to a #2 ranking in the BCS poll[12] and first place in the Pac-10. During the Arizona State game, he left the game with a torn ACL, but was cleared to play two weeks later against Arizona. In the first quarter of that game, he ran 39 yards for a touchdown, but a few plays later, his left knee buckled and he left the game because he suffered an injury, and the Ducks went on to lose 34-24. It was then revealed that Dixon had torn the ACL in his left knee against Arizona State and aggravated it against Arizona. In the last game of the season against arch rival Oregon State, they lost and the Beavers broke the streak of the last 10 years in which the home team had always won.[13] Without Dixon, and following an injury to backup Brady Leaf as well as a long list of injuries to the entire Duck team, the Ducks lost the last two games of the season, but went on to defeat South Florida 56-21 in the 2007 Sun Bowl as Dixon watched from the sideline and continued to cheer on his team.

After undergoing surgery to repair his torn ACL, Dixon walked with no apparent limp at the NFL Combine headquarters in Indianapolis in February. Dixon was unable to perform any Combine drills, but worked out at Oregon's Pro Day and held impressive individual workouts later.

Baseball career

Following his junior year at Oregon, Dixon was picked by the Atlanta Braves in the fifth round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft.[14] Dixon hit only .176 in 74 at bats with two Atlanta Braves rookie league teams, and returned to Oregon for his senior football season in 2007.[15]

Professional career

Pittsburgh Steelers

In the 2008 NFL Draft, Dixon was taken in the 5th round (156th overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was speculated that he could be used in the manner that the Steelers used Antwaan Randle-El (a college quarterback turned NFL receiver).[16]

Dennis passed for a combined 12-for-24 in passing attempts in two 2008 preseason games, in addition, he ran for a 47-yard touchdown against the Buffalo Bills.[17] On December 28, 2008, Dixon completed his first official NFL pass to Hines Ward—the reception was Ward's 800th.[18]

Dixon was deactivated for most of the 2008 season as the third-string quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich; he received a Super Bowl ring after Super Bowl XLIII.

Dixon made his first career start on November 29, 2009 against the Baltimore Ravens after injuries suffered by Roethlisberger and Charlie Batch a week earlier moved him up the depth chart. In the game, the Steelers went on to lose 20-17 in overtime. Dixon finished with 12 completions out of 26 passes with one touchdown and one interception for 145 yards and also ran for 27 yards on three carries, including one run for a touchdown. However, his one interception was in the overtime period, allowing the Baltimore Ravens to kick a field goal for the winning score.[19][20]



  1. ^ a b "Dennis Dixon". Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  2. ^ Jones, Clayton (September 17, 2004). "New age quarterback". Oregon Daily Emerald. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  3. ^ " Draft Tracker Round 20". Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  4. ^ Stevens, Mitch (February 6, 2003). "San Leandro's Dixon opts for Oregon, will wait to play". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  5. ^ "Biography: Dennis Dixon". Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  6. ^ Jenkins, Lee. "Dennis, Anyone?". Retrieved 2008-04-30. 
  7. ^ Peterson, Anne M. (September 1, 2007). "Oregon Opens the 2007 Season with a Victory over Houston". Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  8. ^ "Oregon Downs Michigan 39-7". September 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  9. ^ "Bellotti Earns Win Number 100 With Victory Over Fresno State". September 15, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  10. ^ "No. 13 Ducks Down Stanford, 55-31". September 22, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  11. ^ "Turnovers Cost 11th-ranked Ducks vs. No. 6 Cal". September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  12. ^ "Bowl Championship Series Standings: November 11, 2007". November 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  13. ^ Oregon's Dixon tore ACL two weeks ago, Associated Press, 2007-11-17,, retrieved 2007-12-10 
  14. ^ " Draft Tracker Round 5". Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  15. ^ "Dennis Dixon Statistics (Minor Leagues)". Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  16. ^ "NFL Team: Pittsburgh Steelers 2008 Picks". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-05-02. 
  17. ^ "Dennis Dixon Bio". Retrieved December 12, 2009. 
  18. ^ Bouchette, Ed (29 December 2008). "Steelers Notebook: Pass-happy Hines Ward makes his 800th catch". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 29 December 2008. 
  19. ^ "Source: Roethlisberger out vs. Ravens". November 28, 2009. Retrieved November 28, 2009. 
  20. ^ "Dixon will start at QB vs. Ravens". November 28, 2009. Retrieved December 12, 2009. 
  21. ^ a b Pac-10 Football Awards and All-Conference Team Announced, Pacific 10 Conference, December 3, 2007.
  22. ^ "Expanded Heisman Trophy voting results". Retrieved 2007-12-10. 
  23. ^ "Texas center Dallas Griffin wins Draddy Award as college football's top scholar". International Herald Tribune. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 

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