Babe Ruth (the character in the movie The Sandlot, not the actual Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and sports icon) once said, "Heroes get remembered, but legends never die." And that is what Riley Dixon became in his four-year career at Syracuse, a legend.
Never before in the history of college football has a school become so enamored with a punter–a freaking punter. Due to his penchant for exciting fourth down conversions, Dixon became a cult icon at Syracuse.
The love for Dixon eventually became so infatuating that fans event went as far as promoting a campaign on Twitter, with the hashtag #DixonForHeisman, for him to receive the Heisman Trophy.
But is the love for Dixon justified? And is it enough for the three-year starter to hear his name called during Thursday's NFL Draft? Let's dive into his NFL Draft profile and find out.
Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 221 pounds
Arm Length: 32 1/4"
Hands: 9 5/8"
2015: 65 punts, 43.7 yards per punt, 64-yard longest punt and 2,838 yards total
2014: 75 punts, 42.4 yards per punt, 60-yard longest punt and 3,182 yards total
2013: 75 punts, 42.1 yards per punt, 75-yard longest punt and 3,161 yards total
2012: three punts, 36.3 yards per punt, 49-yard longest punt and 109 yards total
Despite his unique height and well-built frame, Dixon's leg strength is just slightly above average for a collegiate punter–evident by his unimpressive average yards per punt, according to scouts. NFL.com even says those numbers are inflated thanks to several "bounce and roll punts."
Dixon's 43.7 yards per punt last season ranked only fourth in the ACC, and was more than four yards behind Utah's Tom Hackett, the presumed first punter selected in this year's NFL Draft, and a two-time Ray Guy Award recipient, awarded to the nation's top punter.
Leg strength, however, has never been Dixon's specialty. Dixon's best attribute as a punter has been his impressive ability to hang punts in the air and force fair catches. He has forced 88 over the past three seasons. Arguably Dixon's most impressive stat is the fact that more than 78 percent (51-65) of his punts last season were not returned, including 28 that resulted in fair catches.
While it isn't one of the main attributes scouts look for in a punter, Dixon also has plenty of intangibles. Dixon converted multiple fourth downs throughout his Syracuse career, both on the ground and through the air. His highlights include a 42-yard run against Notre Dame, the longest run by a punter in Syracuse history, and a five-yard run against LSU in which he hurdled a defender.
Dixon has been so successful on his fake punts and fake field goals that there have been games where Dixon finished as the team's most efficient passer, and other games where he finished as the team's most efficient rusher.
While he may not own the strongest leg, Dixon's specialty in forcing fair catches, along with his success on fake punts and field goals, he may very well hear his name called in the late rounds. Fox Sports' recent complete seven-round mock draft has Dixon going No. 243 to the New England Patriots.
Even if he doesn't get drafted, Dixon will likely be invited to a team's training camp with a chance to compete for a roster spot.