Well-traveled former Mission Bay High football star Dillon Baxter plans to revive his collegiate football career, signing to play for Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas last week.
Baxter, whose off-field academic and class-attendance troubles have been well-documented, has been dismissed from the football teams at the University of Southern California and San Diego State University n the past year, leading to speculation whether he would ever fulfill the tremendous potential after being named National Prep Player of the Year.
His 76 touchdowns for the Buccaneers in 2009 remain a California state record.
“We’re confident Baker’s support system, family atmosphere and commitment to academics will be ideal for Dillon as he makes this transition in life,” said Baker head football coach Mike Grossner in a university statement.
At Baker, Baxter will be entering a small, private university whose campus covers 10 acres, serving a student population of 4,000. It is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
The total 2010 population of Baldwin City is listed as 4,515 — a big change from the larger stages of Los Angeles and San Diego where Baxter’s problems emerged.
Baxter has two years of college eligibility remaining.
Athletically, Baxter could be a huge fish in a small pond, as Baker’s Wildcats play in the Heart of America Conference, an NAIA league. Grossner, who personally flew to San Diego to sign Baxter, is welcoming his prize recruit with open arms.
“We definitely talked about some of the issues that might come up,” Grossner said. “The bottom line is, we both have trust in each other.”
Could playing for a small school hamper Baxter’s professional opportunities?
“Coming to an NAIA school won’t have any bearing on his future as a pro,” Grossner insisted. “(Head) coaches like Mike McCarthy (Green Bay Packers) and Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks) are well aware of Baxter’s talents.”
Carroll is also a former USC head coach.
Baker’s home games are played in Liston Stadium, and a photo on the school’s website shows a turf-field playing surface with an aluminum seating area very similar in size to Mission Bay High’s facility.
To follow Baxter’s career at Baker, visit www.bakeru.edu/athletics2.