The speculation immediately began on Monday when Guyer senior quarterback Kevin Dillman was ruled ineligible to play his senior year by the University Interscholastic League — where would Dillman go next?
The Sweden native, who moved to Lantana with a longtime family friend and guardian back in February, had quickly made himself a part of Guyer’s football family despite trying to rehab from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered during his junior year at La Mirada HS in California. In April, he committed to Nebraska, choosing the Huskers over 15 other FBS offers at the time.
Now, he can’t play for Guyer, where he was overtaken in the spring by sophomore phenom Shawn Robinson, albeit the fact that Dillman could never fully compete because he wasn’t given full medical clearance.
So surely he’s going to head off to Liberty Christian, right? It’d make sense considering the UIL ruled him ineligible and Liberty Christian is a member of TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools), which also has residency rules but nothing as strict as the UIL’s. It would give Dillman a chance to play as a senior assuming he could beat out the two QB options the Warriors have. He’s at full health now and watching him it’s easy to see why he was so heavily recruited.
But it might not make as much sense as you’d think. A big reason for Dillman to go somewhere and play is the fact that he’s still relatively unseasoned as a quarterback and is just gifted with super athletic talent. Remember, he grew up in Sweden before coming to California as a foreign exchange student, so he hasn’t been around top football coaching for much of his life. There’s a lot of thought that Dillman could lose his offer from Nebraska if he doesn’t play varsity football this fall, and that’s not a far-fetched thought.
So why not go to Liberty Christian and get a chance to play? There are a few reasons to consider, especially when you put yourself in his shoes.
Dillman hasn’t been at Guyer long, but by all accounts he integrated himself quickly and made fast friends with his teammates, as well as surely other friends outside of football. Head coach John Walsh said it took about a second for Dillman to buy into everything the Guyer staff sells to its program, and he’s been around hearing about all the success Guyer has had in the past six years, specifically the last two. He’s become a mentor for Robinson, who said he leans on Dillman often when he doesn’t quite grasp something in Guyer’s complex offense. Heck, Walsh called Dillman one of the leaders of his program already.
As for that offer from Nebraska? There is definitely a chance the Cornhuskers pull it if he stays at Guyer and plays junior varsity, and it’d be hard to fault them too much if they did. But there are several reasons why they likely wouldn’t do that. First off, Nebraska isn’t desperate for a quarterback to step in and play in 2015, meaning Dillman could be an obvious redshirt candidate as a freshman and learn under the Cornhuskers’ coaching staff for a year before competing for the job.
Second, look at who else Nebraska has offered. Yup, none other than Robinson, who is two years behind Dillman. If the hype around Robinson, who’s the top-rated dual threat quarterback in the country in the Class of 2017, proves true, he might play himself out of Nebraska territory anyway. But, it certainly couldn’t hurt Nebraska’s chances of landing him after they were the first school to offer the 15-year-old if they already have one of his good friends and mentors on the team.
Walsh said on Thursday that he still works in Dillman in varsity passing drills at practice and he takes reps from time to time with the first-team guys. The Guyer coaching staff, specifically Walsh and QB coach Lee Vallejo, has made a habit of sending quarterbacks to FBS programs, dating back to their days in Brownwood, and Dillman could be the next one.
So put yourself in his shoes. You change schools again and go meet new friends again in your final year of high school, but you get to play varsity football, even if it is at the TAPPS level. Or, you stay at one of the top programs in Texas with coaches you know and believe in, play on Thursday nights and stand on the sidelines on Friday nights with your friends. It’s a tough call, but if I’m betting money, I’m betting on Dillman staying at Guyer. Either way, he’ll have to make a decision very soon. So stay tuned.