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Recruiting: Jackson Dillon paves his own way

Ringling standout is the son of a former Oklahoma Sooner, but he plans to go to Memphis instead.
By Scott Wright Published: February 5, 2013

RINGLING — Jackson Dillon grew up wanting to be an Oklahoma Sooner.

His father, Richard Dillon, was on the Sooners' 1985 national championship team.

Jackson spent many Saturdays taking the 90-minute ride north to Norman to watch OU games, and he's heard stories about his dad's big games in crimson and cream.

Put yourself in his position, and you'd be ecstatic when the Sooners started recruiting you. Yet in that same situation, you'd be crushed as National Signing Day approached and that scholarship offer hadn't come.


“I ain't lost any sleep over it,” Jackson Dillon said with the no-nonsense attitude that he translates to the football field.

On Wednesday, Dillon, 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, will sign a letter of intent to play outside linebacker at the University of Memphis as one of three Oklahoma prospects the program landed.

Even if it sounds like a tough-guy cover-up to hide his real feelings, be assured, it's not. If he really wanted to be at OU that badly, he could have accepted the invitation to be a preferred walk-on.

Dillon isn't upset that the Sooners didn't offer him a scholarship. He doesn't operate that way, and he isn't interested in masking the truth.

He doesn't mind telling you that while he appreciated the opportunity that the recruiting process provided, the grind wore him down.

“Sometimes it would get on your nerves,” he said. “They'd call all the time. I wanted to hunt or fish, but coaches are messaging me on Facebook and wanting to talk for 30 minutes. So when they'd call, I'd get down to the point.”

Jackson never feared walking in his father's shadow, nor did he shun it. Before his sophomore year, he approached his father about wearing jersey No. 34, Richard's number that had been retired at Ringling since the 1980s.

“My fear as Jackson was growing up was that he'd hear about his dad and feel that he had to live up to something,” Richard said. “We had several long conversations about that, and I think it was tough for him at times. I think he got tired of hearing it.

“It was a relief for me, and a very touching moment when he asked to wear that number. I couldn't have been more honored.”

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