GROTON, Mass. – Two games into his junior season, Lawrence Academy running back A.J. Dillon is off to a sensational pace. In Week 1, Dillon contributed over 300 yards and five touchdowns in his team’s 55-30 win over Cheshire Academy. That performance kick-started what looks to be a prolific season for Dillon and it is already paying dividend on the recruiting trail.
On Thursday afternoon, Dillon received correspondence with Iowa running back coach Chris White, which was an indication that good news would be coming his way. Shortly afterwards, Dillon found out that the Hawkeyes had chosen to offer the four-star running back, his seventh of the recruiting process so far.
“Through Twitter I talked to coach White, the running back coach,” Dillon told Today’s U. “He told me that he watched my tape and that he would like to offer a scholarship. He said that he would be in touch with my coach afterwards since I can’t call him, so my coach relayed the message to me. He just said that they see me playing in their backfield.”
— AJ Dillon™ (@ajdillon7) October 8, 2015
Standing at 6’ and around 230-pounds, Dillon runs the 40-yard dash in the high 4.5-second range and is listed as the No. 16 junior running back in the country by 247Sports.com. Given the Hawkeyes’ history of focusing on the running game, this offer was quite enticing, not to mention surprising, for the standout athlete.
“Honestly, first I was shocked because they’re just a great, storied school,” Dillon said. “I thought my coach was joking for a second and I honestly didn’t believe him. It was an honor that they believe that I can fit into their program because they’re a great program. They’re 5-0 right now and they have something like 1,000 yards rushing among all their running backs. They are definitely doing big things.”
Apart from his Iowa offer, Dillon sports scholarships from Virginia, Boston College, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Syracuse, Temple and Villanova. These programs, in addition to a host of other schools, have continued to recruit Dillon and the four-star prospect spoke about the state of his recruitment.
“It’s been going really well,” Dillon said. “I talk to a lot of coaches through Twitter, some more than others, but it’s been going really well. It’s hard sometimes because I go to a school where there are a lot of people in multiple sports going to play Division I, so sometimes I forget that it’s only the start of my junior year. I get over-eager sometimes, but it’s been going really well for me.”
Since Dillon plays all but two of his high school games on Saturdays, there are not many opportunities for the four-star prospect to visit colleges. Despite that face, Dillon has a few ideas regarding which programs he will take unofficial visits to before the season is over.
“Definitely right now Iowa,” Dillon said. “I have seen Notre Dame play at Virginia, but I didn’t go to Notre Dame. It was at Virginia, which is one of my top schools. I’ve already been down there three times. I think I can get to a B.C. game on a Saturday since it’s right there. I’m thinking Penn State probably. Notre Dame plays a home game in Fenway Park in Boston, so I will probably go to that one. That’s going to be big.”
On these visits, Dillon already knows which areas he would focus the most on, including the school’s academic presentation, the quality of the running back coach and the overall morale of the players at that position. These factors will help Dillon study his options before making a decision in the not so distant future.
“I don’t think I’m going to hold out for a long time,” Dillon said. “I think I’ll probably know where I’m going next spring or in the start of summer going into my senior year, but I’m enjoying it. It’s definitely nice to know that schools want me and it’s an honor that schools think I can help their program as a student athlete.”
Whichever school the talented recruit does decide to commit to will be landing a physical running back that embraces contact but also has a variety of moves at his disposal when it comes to breaking tackles.
“I can lower my shoulder in contact a lot and I never go down on first contact,” Dillon said. “I like to run into people. I’m a running back that doesn’t really shy away from contact. If you’re in my face, I’m going to run over you or use power instead of trying to run away.
“Over the summer I worked a lot on speed and agility. I have definitely gotten faster and I’ve been working on my spin moves and stiff arms a lot more. I don’t want to be a one-dimensional back like a third down back or just a big back. I’m catching out of the backfield now, so I do it all. I did a lot of drills over the summer and it’s definitely showing up in my games.”
Dillon will look to continue his torrid pace this season on Saturday as Lawrence Academy takes on Milton Academy with a 1 p.m. kickoff.