Former Knight Dillon chases his NFL dreamWritten by Ryan Fowler | | email@example.com
Luke Dillon needs to write a book.
The 21-year-old has overcome more obstacles than you and I will in a lifetime. His biography hopes to add a new chapter this weekend.
“I’m a kid looking to go to the NFL,” Dillon said.
Before we go any further, I’m tossing out the red flag. We need to take a step back and review.
Luke Dillon grew up in Temperance, Mich. Adopted by Dr. Thomas and Dee Dillon, he is the youngest of nine children. He spent the first three years of high school at St. Francis de Sales, playing football under coach Dick Cromwell.
“He was a tough kid,” Cromwell said. “He had some size and strength. We knew he had some talent.”
It’s safe to say Dillon’s athleticism was muted during the frenzy of Friday night football.
“I didn’t play,” Dillon said. “I was not good. I was overweight. [St. Francis] wasn’t for me at the time.”
Dillon transferred from St. Francis his senior year. His parents suggested he look at a military academy. After scouring the Internet, he found Missouri Military Academy outside St. Louis.
On top of possessing the title of go-to-guy on the football field, Dillon managed to shine in the classroom. He graduated with a 3.6 grade point average.
“You’re in that position, you either step up or you continue where you’re going. I just stepped up,” Dillon said.
The military academy also gave Dillon the opportunity to mature as a person.
Missouri Military Academy is in Mexico, Mo. As you might expect, the Hispanic population was abundant. Thus, Dillon was dealt the task of not only playing, but also breaking a cultural barrier. He had to coach football to kids who didn’t speak his language.
“I was trying to teach kids defense,” Dillon said. “I wasn’t even that good at defense.”
Upon graduation, the middle linebacker returned home to Michigan. Thanks to some coaxing from his father, Dillon contacted Division III Defiance College to try and further his football career.
The 6-foot-5-inch linebacker was told if he wanted to play for the Yellow Jackets, he would have to change positions.
Dillon lined up at tight end his freshman season at Defiance. He caught one ball.
The Yellow Jackets coaching staff thought he would be better suited as a wide receiver.
“I mean it clicked. It really clicked,” Dillon said.
The former St. Francis Knight shed some weight and created a reputation as an offensive threat in D-III his final three seasons.
Dillon wrapped up his senior year in style. He caught 14 touchdown passes during the 2007 season, third most in the NCAA.
Then this past February, Dillon received a huge break. The guy who watched from the sidelines in high school was invited to the NFL Combine at The Ohio State University.
“A lot of guys said, ‘Who are you? Where’d you go to school?’ Even when I said, Defiance,’ they were like, ‘What’s that to me?’ ” Dillon said.
NFL scouts quickly learned Dillon’s name after he ran an impressive 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds.
“They weren’t saying much before I ran my 40,” Dillon said. “But after I ran it, they started coming up to me.”
Dillon says his current situation is very similar to that of former Scott Bulldog and current Pittsburgh Steeler Nate Washington, who had to deal with coming out of D-II Tiffin University.
“The thing is you’ve just got to give the small-school kids a chance,” Dillon said. “Let them get their foot in the door.”
With draft day looming, Dillon says his mind is racing, but he is staying grounded.
“I’m not expecting to get drafted,” Dillon said. “My expectation is to be signed. In May, I want to be with a team, watching film, going over plays. That’s my goal.”
After review, the play stands.
Ryan Fowler is weekend sports anchor for WNWO-TV NBC 24.