Clayton Named Starter; Dixon To Defense
Mike Sanford announces his team's quarterback moves on Day One of 2008 practice.
Mike Sanford announces his team's quarterback moves on Day One of 2008 practice.

Aug. 4, 2008

LAS VEGAS - Omar Clayton (Normal IL/Normal HS) will be UNLV's starting quarterback for the Aug. 30 season opener vs. Utah State, head coach Mike Sanford announced Monday.

Meeting with the media before the first practice for the squad's returning players at Rebel Park, Sanford said it was important to go ahead and name his starter sooner rather than later.

"Omar has had a great summer and off-season and our players have a lot of confidence in him," Sanford said. "He displays the combination of throwing the football accurately and also running effectively and he proved that in games last season. He has a lot of things to work on, but that's why we're out here practicing."

Clayton, a former invited walk-on who later earned a scholarship, played in seven games as a true freshman last season. After being impressive off the bench, he took over as UNLV's starter in Game Eight. He started three straight games before suffering a broken hand vs. San Diego State, which ended his season.

Overall, Clayton completed 61 percent of his passes (58-95) for 618 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions. In his first start, vs. Colorado State on Oct. 20, he became the first Rebel in history to pass for at least 300 yards (304) and rush for at least 100 yards (135) in the same game.

Clayton had been competing for the starting nod with last year's nine-game starter, sophomore Travis Dixon (Hamilton HS/Chandler AZ), who Sanford announced has moved over to the defense and will instead compete for time at the safety position.

Dixon, who played in all 12 games, completed 159 passes in 299 attempts for 1,873 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. He will look for playing time at what is a position sorely lacking depth in 2008.

"I am ready to help this football team get more victories any way I can and we are a little thin over at safety," Dixon said after hitting the field with a new look -- red jersey No. 9 - instead of his former white No. 16. "Omar and Mike (Clausen) will take care of things on offense and now I'll help the other side of the ball."



With Dixon's position change, redshirt freshman Mike Clausen (Riverside, CA/North HS) has moved into the second spot on the team's depth chart.

"Travis Dixon is a tremendous young man and tremendous athlete who has earned the respect and of his teammates," Sanford said. "He has an opportunity to compete to start on defense and help this team be successful. We want to put our best players on the field and there is a history of converted quarterbacks making the move over to safety. We feel this will be a great thing for our team."

UNLV resumes practice on Tuesday with a split squad format in the morning and evening.

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