Player Spotlight: Buford CB Ryan Dillard
by Wade Perry
Posted May 14, 2011 6:50 pm
Buford football, class of 2012, Ryan Dillard
Photo courtesy of FCAA–Future College Athletes Association
FinestPreps.com has promised to deliver some of the top high school football prospects in America and today we take one of our first ventures down south to the Peach State.
Dan Picca recently wrote a report on an cover corner in that area.
This talented prospect has already landed scholarship offers from Air Force, Harvard, and Illinois–according to his Rivals.com profile.
Who’s the hot football phenom from Georgia you should be looking out for in the future?
Check out Picca’s report below!
“He’s going to be the next #1 pick in our family.” Calvin Johnson (2nd Overall Pick to the Detroit Lions) about his 1st cousin Ryan Dillard at the 2007 NFL Draft in New York City.
“I believe that. I’ll expect to see you on this stage in eight years then!” Adrian Peterson (7th Overall Pick to the Minnesota Vikings) responded.
A 17-point second-half advantage against hated rival Calhoun had vanished. A last-second 45-yard field goal sent the Georgia state championship into overtime tied at 24. Momentum had clearly swung and the chances of tying West Rome High School’s mark of four straight crowns in the Peach State were slipping away for Buford High School (Buford, GA).
“Honestly, I didn’t know how our kids would react. We had never played in an overtime game before!” proclaimed Buford Head Coach Jess Simpson.
Calhoun won the overtime coin toss and opted to have Buford go on offense first. The Wolves responded with talented tailback Dominique Swope, pinballing into the endzone for a 31-24 lead. Calhoun drove down on their first possession of the extra stanza. And on 4th down and needing a touchdown to continue the contest, a short pass in the flat was completed.
Immediately, the Yellow Jackets’ receiver was dropped to the artificial turf short of the goal line. The tackler was junior cornerback Ryan Dillard. The same player who had made the season’s opening tackle on special teams had ended the marathon and sent Buford in to the Georgia state record books with their fourth consecutive state championship.
Ryan Dillard’s initial football camp experience was as a second grader in Bobby Bowden’s FSU event in Tallahassee. The seven-year olds got to do drills just like the college guys. Ryan got to pose for a picture with the legendary coach. At the end of the camp, the second graders were allowed to play a scrimmage game.
After the first half of the practice tilt, the other parents were yelling, “Don’t let that kid touch the ball!” They were referring to Ryan Dillard. Every time he touched the pigskin that day under the hot Florida sun, he took it all the way to the endzone. The other kids weren’t getting their opportunity to shine. As would become the case his entire career, Ryan was showing up the other players. He wasn’t doing it on purpose. He was just simply better.
After starting at Woodward Academy (College Park, GA) in grades six through ninth, Ryan’s dad Oscar Dillard visited Buford High School. A long-time high school coach who produced multiple D-1 superstars (including his nephew Calvin Johnson), the elder Dillard was there to recruit several of Jess Simpson’s stars to play in his annual all-star event.
While online at the school, Dillard asked the Wolves’ coach if he wanted to see one of the better freshmen in the region. And when Simpson responded in the affirmative, the two watched the 9th graders’ YouTube clip.
“Who is that kid? He’s unreal!” exclaimed Coach Simpson.
“That’s my son Ryan!” replied Oscar Dillard.
“I’ll tell you right now, he’s an All-American!” stated Buford’s head man.
Not surprisingly, Ryan Dillard enrolled at Buford that Fall. The team had already won two consecutive state titles. He started at cornerback that season as a sophomore. In the state championship match-up against Calhoun, their 6’4″ superstar receiver DaRick Rogers (now starring at the University of Tennessee) had been doing some social network smack talking.
“I can’t wait to meet you (Dillard) in the Georgia Dome. Do some work. Light you up!” posted the bragadocious senior, who was averaging 176 yards and three TDs in the state playoffs.
In team meetings leading up to that title game his sophomore year, Ryan Dillard and his coaches viewed filmed constantly and discussed game strategy.
“I told Coach Simpson I wanted Rogers one-on-one the entire game. I knew I could handle the challenge. He might beat me once or twice man-on-man, but I’m a playmaker. I was confident in my abilities.”
DaRick Rogers would muster just 69 yards in that championship loss to Buford. More than 100 yards below his per-game average. Dillard would frustrate him the entire afternoon with his physical, bump-and-run style. He made DaRick Rogers look like Mr. Rogers. He would pick off a long pass intended for Rogers at his team’s one-yard line. A turning point in the game. Rogers’ lone tally would be on a reverse running away from Ryan Dillard. Buford would knock off Calhoun for the Wolves’ third straight title.
“I don’t do smack talking. I just listen and take it all in. I let my actions speak louder than any words can!”
Dan Picca is a contributing writer for FinestPreps.com. You can check out more of his work at: http://www.allaccessportsnetwork.com. He is also the chief editor for the FCAA-the Future College Athletes Association.
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Buford football, class of 2012, Ryan Dillard