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Dixon, Knighten Appear to be Landers Award Frontrunners
January 12, 2012By VYPE Arkansas of VYPE MAGAZINE - Arkansas
It appears Thursday night’s Landers Award is a two-horse race. Pulaski Academy senior quarterback Fredi Knighten and Strong senior running back Kenneth Dixon shared the Democrat-Gazette’s Offensive Player of the Year Award and look to be the favorites to take home the trophy, ring and $,3000 scholarship. The announcement is made Thursday night at 7 live during a 30-minute show on KATV.
Knighten (5-11, 190) started the season as a potential favorite after a solid junior season, in which he led the Bruins to the state title game. This year, he more than picked up where he left off by leading the state in passing (260 for 353 for 4,559 yards) and 66 touchdowns. He rushed 104 times for 837 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also caught 6 passes for 124 yards and a score. He led PA to an undefeated state championship and was the MVP of the state title game.
Knighten has offers from Arkansas State and Louisiana Tech and visits ASU this weekend. His 4.5 speed and pin-point accuracy made him tough to contain, as he racked up his yards in a half for three quarters during blowouts.
Dixon (5-11, 210) may have turned in the most dominant performance in state playoff history as the Bulldogs rode Dixon to their first state title. He set a single-season rushing record with 3,153 yards and 39 touchdowns on 315 attempts. He also rushed for 348 yards in a the 2A Championship game — a record since playoffs began in 1968. He rushed for 100 yards per game or more in 12 of 13 games. He was also the MVP of the title game.
Dixon has committed to Louisiana Tech, but has seen increased interest from bigger schools, including Arkansas, since the title game.
The 14 finalists, include 10 players who are Division I prospects. White Hall wide/receiver defensive end Jeremy Sprinkle is the only Arkansas commit in the field. Greenbrier’s Neal Burcham, an SMU commit, passed for eight touchdowns in a game and appeared to be a strong finalist until his season ended with knee injury the last week of the season. Bentonville quarterback Dallas Hardison also may have worked his way into the conversation, but the Tigers’ upset loss to Fayetteville in the title game hurt his chances.
Only one junior made the field. PA tight end Hunter Henry, who has scholarship offers from several major programs, including Arkansas and Alabama, will have a chance to win the award next season.
2011 Landers Award Finalists
Neal Burcham, Greenbrier
Zach Conque, Catholic
Kaylon Cooper, North Little Rock
Kenneth Dixon, Strong
Dallas Hardison, Bentonville
Hunter Henry, Pulaski Academy
Ajalen Holley, Lakeside
Shaquille Jones, Northside
Derek Keaton, Camden Fairview
Fredi Knighten, Pulaski Academy
Levi Runyan, Lake Hamilton
Jeremy Sprinkle, White Hall
Dezmond Stegall, Searcy
Dillon Winfrey, Bryant