Oct. 26, 2000
LOS ANGELES - Get ready, Tucson. Brian Poli-Dixon is coming home.
The UCLA wide receiver can't wait for Saturday's game at Arizona Stadium between the Bruins and 24th-ranked Wildcats.
"I'm excited, this whole week of practice is going to be off pure emotion," said Poli-Dixon, a 6-foot-5, fourth-year junior who was born and raised in Tucson and starred at Sabino High. "You want to do well, you want to go home and show your friends and family what you can do.
"I'm going to take it up a notch this week."
Poli-Dixon was hoping the game would be meaningful to the Bruins in the Pacific-10 Conference race, but three conference losses have knocked them out of title contention.
"We're this close to being 7-0," he said, holding his thumb and forefinger inches apart. "We have so much potential, things just haven't worked out for us so far."
UCLA (4-3, 1-3) was ranked No. 6 after beating Alabama, Fresno State and Michigan last month.
Since that time, the Bruins have lost at No. 7 Oregon in a game that was tied in the third quarter, at California in triple overtime, and to No. 18 Oregon State at the Rose Bowl last weekend despite leading by 10 points early in the fourth quarter.
UCLA was successful in Poli-Dixon's only previous game against Arizona in Tucson, handing the Wildcats a 52-28 setback two years ago - their only loss of the season. Poli-Dixon did his part, catching four passes for 51 yards and one touchdown.
Poli-Dixon, who has 29 receptions for 370 yards and two TDs, said he didn't follow football until he began playing as a sophomore in high school.
"Then, I fell in love with it," he said.
As a high school senior, Poli-Dixon had 44 catches for 912 yards and 17 TDs as Sabino High went 12-1 and reached the state 4A semifinals.
"I think he's a terrific young man," Arizona coach Dick Tomey said. "We tried hard to get Brian. He chose UCLA, he's done an outstanding job. We're very concerned about playing against him. He's a threat because of his size and competitiveness."
Poli-Dixon said Arizona was one of the five schools he visited as a high school recruit.
"I was definitely keeping in mind playing at home," he recalled. "I had been there my whole life, I wanted to try something else."
Since he didn't follow football as a youngster, Poli-Dixon said he never developed a loyalty to the Wildcats (5-2, 3-1).
"They're just an obstacle in the way," he said. "I'm from there, but they're the enemy right now."
He will have a lot of support in the stands Saturday.
"I'll probably only get about 10 tickets, I'll buy about 40. The money's not coming out of my pocket," Poli-Dixon said with a smile. "My dad needs some for his people, I've got three sisters, they're all bringing people.
"Every game is personal, when you go home, it's more personal. I'm going to take care of business."
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer