|Posted on December 6, 2016 at 4:50 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
Former Christian Brothers Academy and then Syracuse Orange punter Riley Dixon is in his first season with the Denver Broncos of the National Football League (NFL), a young man who came from Central New York whose hard work has propelled him into one of the toughest jobs to get into in the pros, let alone get into the league in general.
Speaking with Dixon for "Wake Up Call with Dan Tortora" onsite following the Broncos' 20-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Jacksonville, Florida, where Dixon punted the ball 11 times, he reminisced on another time when he was called upon that much in college. "Yeah, I think the game against Wake Forest in college," said Dixon. "We had 12 and they had 13, something like that. There was 23, 24 punts total, so it's part of the game, just gotta do my job." That game, just as this one versus the Jaguars, was a victory for Dixon's team as the Orange rose above the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest 13-0 on Saturday, November 2, 2013, a little over three years ago. Dixon did, in fact, punt 11 times in that Syracuse game as well.
As a whole, Dixon is very appreciative for the opportunity he has been given by Denver, who drafted him in the 2016 NFL Draft in the seventh round as the 228th overall selection. "Blessed to be a part of this organization and happy to be on an NFL team," Dixon offered, "There's only 32 punters in the league, so just being a part of that is an honor and, you know, no better place than Denver."
Following their win, Dixon spoke on the 8-4 Broncos, stating that he is "just taking one game at a time and every week trying to win obviously and do the best we can. And obviously on my end just try to put the team in the best situation I can to win."
"This is a great team, it's a great place, and [I] love the guys on the team, so being in Denver is really like I said, a true blessing and taking a day at a time," Dixon went on to say.
Dixon amounted 506 yards on his 11 punts against the Jaguars, 300 more than the entire offense of the Broncos, but he deferred credit from himself and, instead, gave it to his teammates. "It's all the other ten guys on the field," Dixon expressed. "Those are the guys that make it happen, keeping me protected behind the line and making plays downfield. [Cornerback] Kayvon [Webster] had a bunch of big plays down in the plus territory. It's those guys that make the plays, including my long-snappers."
Shifting his focus to Syracuse, Dixon shared, "I watch a couple of the games, here and there, whenever I can."
"I owe Syracuse everything."
With former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone and former Syracuse offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett on the coaching staff of the Jaguars, Marrone as offensive line coach and Hackett in the same roles he served in with the Orange, Dixon had the opportunity to see them once again. "I got to say hello to Coach [Doug] Marrone out here who was my head coach for my first couple years at Syracuse," Dixon shared.
"It all comes full circle," Dixon continued. "Those are two great guys. Coach [Nathaniel] Hackett was one of my favorite guys at Syracuse. Just a funny guy and always kept a smile on, so it's good to see him again."
As far as what the future holds, Dixon is looking to remain close to Syracuse. "Moving forward, looking to give back more and meet up with the guys," Dixon expressed. "I still keep in contact with the specialists at Syracuse and talk to them every now and then as much as I can."
Looking back to the past and coming current, Dixon has great appreciation coming from Christian Brothers Academy to Syracuse University to the Denver Broncos, being a true example of believing in one's self and one's ability to live their dreams. "There's always a chance," Dixon offered. "A lof people say, 'This school can do this or this produces the best football players.' But you can come from anywhere. It all depends on what you put into it and doing the best you can."
Kudos to Dixon. He is an example of what hard work, determination, and constant belief in yourself looks like.
And he has a pretty nice boot on the ball to go with it.