Column: Will AJ Dillon receive national recognition?

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Boston College’s AJ Dillon (2) leaves the field after rushing for 185 yards against Wake Forest during an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Winston-Salem, N.C. (AP Photo/Woody Marshall)

Over the summer, I was out in Las Vegas for an internship and managed to find time to visit the renowned Westgate Sportsbook to wager some money. As I looked over the future sheets, perusing for cheap bets to bring home as inexpensive gifts, I noticed a surprising but familiar name: AJ Dillon, New London, Connecticut, native and Boston College running back, was listed towards the very bottom at 50/1 odds. As someone who always roots for the New Englander and watches a good deal of BC football, I really wanted to, but it seemed like a waste, and I passed.

Okay, maybe it was 25/1, but I am pretty confident it was 50. Either way, I think it would have been a sharp bet. Dillon, now at 18/1, and his Eagles just re-entered the AP Top 25 for the first time in a decade at No. 23. Analytically, BC is No. 17 in guru Bill Connelly’s data driven S&P rankings. The Eagles are damn good and have a host of winnable games on the horizon before closing with a gauntlet that will test the true ability of anyone.

Dillon does a lot of breaking: breaking through holes, breaking defenders’ tackles, breaking the collective will of opposing fans, coaches and players alike. He is a physical menace. But, he is also at BC (after de-committing from Michigan when they wanted him to play linebacker) and head coach Steve Addazio has been the definition of mediocrity in his tenure in Chapel Hill. So, breaking into the national consciousness may be his biggest challenge yet.

Dillon finished strong last year and first went quasi-mainstream as he steamrolled the Louisville Cardinals in a big BC win last year. Real college football fans and media knew his name and gave him his due this preseason. But to the common fan, the uneducated fan, the biased fan? He was unheard of; best case, a blip on the radar.

All he has done this year is run. Less than he expected, as BC creamed UMass and Holy Cross, but still a lot. He is fifth in the country in rushing yards with 432 but has only carried the ball 59 times and is averaging 7.3 yards per carry. For comparison, Heisman hopeful Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin, who runs behind the best offensive line in the country, is second in the country at 515 yards but has 77 carries. Dillon has been more efficient, and his body has been saved. He is in a position to hold up longer and with a closing slate including Miami, Virginia Tech and Clemson consecutively could make a humongous splash.

The rest of the Eagles have to do their part, and they have so far. Dillon is an incredible talent, but, especially being at BC, people are going to have to see it to believe. I can tell you right now I have seen it, and he’s real and he’s spectacular. He’s a Connecticut kid, an exemplary person and has bright future making him one to root for. However, I have to say, having some cash on that future of his would’ve made it quite fun. Folks, get on board while you still can or risk getting left behind.


Matt Barresi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.barresi@uconn.edu.

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