Husker dreams fulfilled for small-town high school hero

Friday, April 19, 2013
Courtesy photo/NU Media Relations Taylor Dixon, 2008 Wauneta-Palisade graduate, finished his Nebraska football career last season after joining the Huskers as a walk-on.

No doubt nearly every young boy growing up in Nebraska dreams of playing football for Big Red.

Just a very small percentage of young Husker fans ever get the opportunity to fulfill those football dreams, especially those raised in small communities in the outlying areas of the Cornhusker State.

Taylor Dixon proudly knows that he will forever be known for having his NU football dreams come true. The 2008 Wauneta-Palisade High School graduate completed his Nebraska football career last fall. Dixon took the tough route as a Husker walk-on, and he realized the dream when he earned a NU football letter in his senior season while appearing in four games as a backup wide receiver.

"I feel very blessed to get the opportunity, because it's every (Nebraska) kid's dream, and I got to fulfill that," Dixon said. "I'm very thankful for that."

Dixon is trying to give a little back to Husker fans around the state, and especially those from his hometown and in the area. He will be a part of the Husker Hoops team that plays in McCook Saturday, April 20.

Dixon graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln last December with a degree in fisheries and wildlife. He is currently employed as the park superintendent at Swanson Reservoir just west of Trenton.

Taylor is happy to have the chance to play on the Husker senior team in the special basketball contest Saturday night in front of family and friends at the MCC Events Center in McCook.

"I think it will be a lot of fun to just let loose and play kind of a fun game for all the people in the community and against all the (area) coaches," Dixon said. "We're not taking it too seriously, we just want to give everybody a good show and get a chance to get all the Huskers out to this side of the state. It's tough for people to get away to go to games in the fall, and we just want to bring (Husker football) to southwest Nebraska.

"I'm just ready to give back to the community because the community supported me for so long since I've been down in Lincoln. I'm anxious for it for sure."

DIXON CHALLENGES all his old friends from the Wauneta-Palisade community and around the area to come to Saturday night's game and support a good cause.

"I've been doing my best to spread the word because they're who I want there the worst -- put that in the paper," Taylor said. "Of course, my family and my extended family will be there. My siblings are coming down for it. I think it will be a lot of fun."

The Nebraska Hoops team is comprised of seniors from last fall's NU football squad. They will face a group of "All-Star" players who coach at various high schools in the Gazette area.

Dixon will see a familiar face on the opposite side of the court. His old high school basketball coach, Dave Kuhlen, is on the coach's all-star squad for Saturday's game. Dixon was a junior member of the W-P squad that won the 2007 Class D-1 state basketball champion, capping a perfect 25-0 record.

Dixon was an all-state football player for W-P and a track and field standout for the Broncos in addition to his basketball success.

DIXON ATTENDED the Husker Spring Game in Lincoln April 6. He said it was a total surprise to him when young Jack Hoffman got to take the field and run 69 yards for a touchdown for the Huskers.

"I didn't know anything about it. I'm assuming they told the team beforehand," Dixon said. "It's pretty cool, a cool moment for the whole state and the football team. I think it helps show, on a national stage, what Nebraska football is all about. We're good at heart and we like to give back to the community."

Former Husker wide receiver Tim Marlowe is the coordinator for the Husker Hoops team. Marlowe will also play here Saturday night. He echoed Dixon's sentiments about Jack's amazing touchdown run.

"That was a special moment for the whole state of Nebraska, for Jack," Marlowe said. "For Nebraska it was just a great thing to bring the whole team and state together. It was nice that it got known nationally on ESPN. It's just great exposure for the football team, for Team Jack to get the awareness out there. That was a really special moment.

"I still get the chills every time I see it. It was just something special."

Jack Hoffman is a 7-year-old from Atkinson, Neb. who is battling pediatric brain cancer. He has become a special friend of the Nebraska football program.

Proceeds from Saturday night's event will be donated to Team Jack, the foundation formed to support Jack and his family and other youngsters stricken with brain cancer.

DIXON WILL get his first glimpse of the MCC Events Center, the year-old $10 million McCook Community College arena. Dixon is looking forward to seeing the new building, and looking forward to introducing his former Husker teammates to the McCook area.

"I'm anxious to get some of my buddies from college back to see what this area is like," he said. "It might be a shock to some of them -- a lot of big-city guys, and from other states, there's very few that have actually been out here. Hopefully we'll show them good support and let them know that they have Husker fans all the way out here, too."

THE FORMER Husker players are planning an autograph session following Saturday night's game. Tim Marlowe said that's one of the best parts of the Husker Hoops experience, for the former Huskers to get the chance to interact with NU fans -- especially those from so far away from Lincoln.

"It is really great," Marlowe said. "We don't get out of the Lincoln-Omaha area that much. So going out to all the small towns is really a lot of fun. I love seeing all the small towns, meeting the people -- they put all those fans in the stadium and support us through the good times and the bad. It will be exciting. It's a great time and a great way to connect with all our fans."

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