The Arizona Wildcats are searching for someone to step into the receiver spotlight, as it transitions without seniors Shun Brown, Tony Ellison and Shawn Poindexter.
On Monday night, Drew Dixon was selected to speak to the media after practice, an indication that he has had a productive spring, putting him in line for a huge role in 2019.
“Drew’s having a great spring ball camp,” receivers coach Taylor Mazzone told the media. “He’s been consistent and that’s what we’re looking for. The main vision, the main thing that we talked about every day is growth and consistency. And growth and consistency with Drew has been excellent.”
Dixon is an interesting prospect. A local product from Sabino High School, he played quarterback for most of his career, but also added the roles of running back, receiver, safety, punt returner and punter.
He is a dynamic athlete, but was ultimately recruited to play receiver at Arizona. He’s spent the past two seasons developing his receiver skill set, and now appears to be comfortable with his role.
“It’s taking time to learn to position, really grow and mature in the position, you know, I think starting to come in small time,” Dixon said of his transition. “It’s not really a hard thing, it’s just being able to learn a new position, truly understanding because transitioning from the quarterback to receiver, I never really played receiver like this so it’s been a transition.”
Rivals had him listed as four-star recruit coming out of high school, and the 247Sports composite ranking had him inside the top 750 regardless of position. He ended up being Arizona’s sixth highest-ranked recruit in its loaded 2017 class.
But despite his production and lofty rankings, he went unnoticed by Power Five programs, holding offers to Cornell, Hawaii, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Northern Arizona and San Jose State along with the Wildcats.
He could have gone on to pursue a multitude of positions at the college level, opting for early playing time at a Mountain West program. Instead, Dixon had his sights set on staying in Tucson.
“It’s my hometown,” Dixon said. “I’ve been dreaming of come here since I was a little boy coming to the games. So that was a big part of it but absolutely. I wanted to transition to a new position for college.”
Arizona desperately needs size and and production from its receivers. At the high school level, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Dixon proved to be a large, physical receiver when called on.
Upon his first summer on campus, he dropped down to 190 pounds, but has now bulked back up to 212 pounds.
“I feel stronger, faster, it feels good,” Dixon said. “(The staff) want me between 210-215, I’ll probably gain again, get up in the 220’s, but I’m good for now.”
Comparing him to former Arizona receiver Austin Hill seems appropriate given their similar frame and abilities. Dixon is a large, physical receiver who can use his body well to shield off defenders or get up and win a jump ball. He has strong hands and accelerate nicely after a few long strides.
Cedric Peterson, Devaughn Cooper and Boobie Curry likely earn themselves starting roles to begin the 2019 season. Jaiden Mitchell and Tre Adams are two others who have been impressing this spring, along with Brian Casteel. But now Dixon could be the next guy up with a strong close to the spring and a big a fall camp.
“As long as (the quarterbacks) develop that trust through the hard work off the field on the field I think Drew’s in a great position to break that line,” Mazzone said.