Dillard Makes His Mark

USC's freshman class is showing their talent, helping the Trojans on their quest for victory. But it's more than just scholarship players who are having an influence on the performance of the team.

USC's freshman class is making an impact for the Trojans, but it isn't only scholarship players that are attracting attention. Ryan Dillard, a freshman walk-on, made plays throughout fall camp and is now seeing playing time in games.

The cornerback from Buford, Georgia comes from a three-time state championship team at Buford High School where he was trained to compete at a high level.

"It's just the mindset of knowing how to win, never giving up, and always being motivated and determined," Dillard said.

Accepted to Yale University, Dillard chose instead to come out west, where he felt he would find a better balance between school and sports.

"I just couldn't turn that down," he said, "plus, I've loved USC since my childhood. I grew up watching them."

While making an impact on the field, Dillard is trying to start off his college career on the right foot, assuring academics fair their share of attention.

"We have a lot of meetings, practice and then schoolwork on top of that so I need to use my time wisely and manage it and be productive," he said.

Teammates and fellow defensive backs Nickell Robey, Anthony Brown, and Torin Harris have been mentors to the young player, helping him on the field, in the film room and in the classroom.

A dynamic relationship also has developed between Dillard and Marqise Lee. After a tussle on the field during a fall camp scrimmage, Lee praised his opposite for covering him aggressively and competitively.

"I'm a physical player, aggressive player. And that's how cornerbacks are going be when he goes against them in the game," said Dillard.

But competition on the field has not compromised their relationship off the field.

"He's definitely like a big brother to me, he's like family. This is the Trojan family right here," he said.

As for competing next to some of the country's top freshman, intimidation is not an emotion felt by Dillard.

"It's just a blessing. I love all these guys," he said, "just coming in trying to help out the Trojan family however we can, it's a blessing."

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