Groton (MA) Lawrence Academy tailback A.J. Dillon doesn’t know if “surprised” is the right word to describe his early recruiting success, holding offers from some of the top schools on the East Coast and the Midwest.
He’s definitely grateful for having double-digit offers a year away from national signing day, but the 6-0, 223-pound Dillon knew the offers were going to come once a few local colleges started to take a shine to him.
“Those first couple offers from Virginia, Syracuse, UConn that came in, that’s when I started to realize that teams were taking an interest in me,” Dillon told BadgerNation. “As I continued to work and have a pretty good year, I started talking to more coaches throughout the country and the interest level was there from a few schools. I wasn’t expecting to have this many offers this early.”
After rushing for 1,368 yards and 21 touchdowns on 161 carries his sophomore season, Dillon pushed himself last summer to be more than just a one-dimensional player. While admitting he’s not the shiftiest guy on the field, Dillon strives to have better footwork and be stronger in his cuts to give himself the opportunity to create space to make the big play.
In 187 carries last season, Dillon finished with 1,887 yards and 26 touchdowns, upping his yards per carry from 8.5 to 10.1, to help his team win the league championship in New England.
“I wanted to be more than just a big power back, which is what a lot of people my size are,” said Dillon. “I told a lot of people I wanted to work on my agility and speed, and I think that really showed on my film compared to my sophomore season.”
Dillon holds many of his 15-plus offers in high regard: Virginia was one of the first schools to offer him, Notre Dame was special because his grandfather played for the Irish and he has a strong relationship with Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown that dates back to Brown’s time at Boston College.
He’s also become a big fan of Wisconsin since his high school coach said the Badgers were in the process of offering him, which happened earlier this month.
“Before they offered, I knew they were a running back powerhouse,” said Dillon, who is being recruited by tight end coach Mickey Turner. “They play great competition in the Big Ten. My coach has great relationship with a few of the coaches and has told me great things about the place. I also have a few friends who have gone to Wisconsin and say it’s a beautiful place.”
Dillon will see Madison first hand when he visits March 23.
“I’m excited about it,” said Dillon of Wisconsin. “It’s a very big interest of mine.”
Planning to visit Michigan March 22 and Florida State on an undecided date, as well, Dillon wants to take a handful of unofficial visits in May/June before the school year ends. In a perfect world, Dillon said he would want to take his official visits before deciding.
“I’ve been told official visits make all the difference, and I would really love to see those schools,” said Dillon. “I’ve visited a lot of schools, but maybe once I figure out my top schools I’d like to take an official there. I think as of right now I’m going to take a couple officials before I commit, but I’d like to have my top couple choices be done before the season. I don’t really see myself waiting until signing day, maybe deciding as late as Thanksgiving, unless I go on a visit and fall in love with the place.”