Commentary

Versatility carries Baxter to top of the class

Updated: February 5, 2010, 3:11 AM ET
By Mark Tennis and Doug Huff | ESPN RISE

Dillon BaxterCourtesy Steven JohnsonDillon Baxter scored a state-record 76 TDs in 13 games for unbeaten Mission Bay (San Diego, Calif).

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This year's EA SPORTS Mr. Football USA National Player of the Year honor ended up being a choice between Mr. Football in California and Mr. Football in Florida.

Dillon Baxter of Mission Bay (San Diego, Calif.) and Matt Elam of Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) turned in monster seasons. And while Elam played against arguably a stronger collection of opponents and led his team to a Class 5A state title, the record-breaking accomplishments of Baxter were too much to ignore. The 6-foot, 205-pound senior has been named the EA SPORTS Mr. Football USA.

Baxter becomes the first Mr. Football USA from California since D.J. Williams of De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) in 1999. He's also the first from San Diego since NFL Hall of Famer Marcus Allen, who starred at Lincoln in 1975-77.

Baxter, who committed to USC after his sophomore season, owes a huge thank you to Mission Bay coach Willie Matson, who used the versatile senior as a Wildcat quarterback, opening the statistical floodgates. Earlier in Baxter's career, he played tight end, receiver and running back.

Baxter accounted for a state-record 76 touchdowns in leading Mission Bay to a 13-0 record and the CIF San Diego Section Division IV title. He did that by rushing for 2,974 yards and 50 scores, passing for 1,968 yards and 23 scores and by scoring twice on defense and once on a pass reception. Baxter put on a clinic in the section championship game at Qualcomm Stadium, where despite rain and sloppy field conditions he piled up 384 yards on 26 carries and scored seven touchdowns to lead Mission Bay over Valley Center (Valley Center, Calif.), 48-17.

There have been four Heisman Trophy winners from San Diego-area high schools, the most recent being Reggie Bush in 2005. The other three have been Allen (1981), Rashaan Salaam (1994) and Ricky Williams (1998).

"If he keeps growing (physically and emotionally), there's a real chance he could be the next Heisman Trophy winner from San Diego," Matson said. "Of course, it takes a lot of luck."

It also takes special talent. It looks like Dillon Baxter has that covered.

Brian Stumpf and Paul Muyskens also contributed to ESPN RISE's All-American coverage.