Ringling coach Tracy Gandy says the Blue Devils will never have another player like linebacker Jackson Dillon.
“We've had a lot of great players, but most of our great players are 5-10,” Gandy said. “We don't get 6-7 kids very often.”
And certainly not 6-7 kids with the athletic ability of Dillon, who was selected as a linebacker on The Oklahoman's 2012 All-State football team.
Dillon, who weighs 210 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.6, led the Blue Devils to the Class A state title this season.
“He is just one of those kids that nobody can block,” Gandy said. “He is fast. He is strong. He is so nasty with his hands that when he hits people, he just rocks them back.
“So he has got the power to be a good defensive end but also with speed. He was faster than 90 percent of the running backs in Class A so he has a unique skills set and that is why he is going to go play at the next level.”
Dillon has verbally committed to play college football at Memphis.
“I like their defense. I like their coaching staff,” Dillon said. “Right now I am sold on them.”
Dillon was the Blue Devils' most versatile player. On offense, Dillon started at tight end most of the season, but during the playoffs at key times, Gandy moved his lanky tight end to tailback. The Blue Devils lined up in a double tight end set and gave Dillon the football.
“We got in the playoffs and he was so productive,” Gandy said. “I bet he had 60 carries in the playoffs. In the semifinals, we are behind 14-7 and I decided we weren't going to punt.
“We moved Jackson to tailback and we went on an eight-minute (scoring) drive in 13 plays and he carried the ball 11 times. It kind of let the air out of Texhoma. We got the ball right back and throw a pass down the boundary and he catches it and we score again.
“He did all this and the next day we found out he had a staph infection in his elbow. Considering that and what he did, it was an amazing day for him.”
Opposing clubs in the playoffs found Dillon tough to tackle. The Blue Devils turned to Dillon and the running game to combat the spread offenses they were facing in the playoffs.
The best way to defend the spread was to limit the offensive plays by slowing the pace of the game, Gandy said. Ringling did that by running the football and going on methodical, time-consuming offensive drives with Dillon carrying the football, he said.
“Through that playoff run, we certainly couldn't have done it without Jackson,” Gandy said. “He doesn't look like a high school running back. He's too tall. But we are state champs because he is a running back.”
Dillon, though, prefers to play on the other side of the ball and should be an ideal fit in Memphis' 3-4 defense, which relies on speedy linebackers.
“My high school career is done and that is what I am ready for, playing in college,” he said. “I am looking forward to it. It's good to leave with no regrets.”
Gandy hates to see his star player leave.
“Anything we asked him to do, he was great at doing it,” he said. “We will never have another player like him.”