MORGANTOWN. W.Va. — Returning from an ankle injury that precluded him from practicing the first 10 days of camp, nickel back K.J. Dillon said he has plenty of time to prepare for the season opener against Alabama on Aug. 30.
“I’m full-go,” he said. “I’m all-in.”
Dillon’s absence allowed junior walk-on Dayron Wilson to flourish so much he earned a scholarship, and it also gave first-team reps to Pitt graduate transfer Cullen Christian.
“They’ve been doing a good job and filling in while I was gone,” Dillon said. “We’ve got so much depth, anybody can call themselves a starter. Those guys, when I was absent, definitely stepped in and did a good job.”
Dillon’s position, technically identified as the Spur linebacker, is crucial because he must serve as a blitzer, a run-stopper against heavier blockers and a cover guy capable of matching up on short and deep routes.
Apparently, Dillon also is the loudest dude in the secondary, said safety Karl Joseph: “He’s the guy who gets everybody riled up.”
TARGETING YEAR 2
Joseph owns a well-deserved reputation as one of the Big 12’s toughest thumpers, a guy whose collisions injured two of his own teammates last season. Despite the scrutiny placed on targeting, however, he wasn’t flagged for any illegal hits.
“I don’t think it changed my game, but I always had that doubt in the back of my mind,” he said. “If the receiver was going up, I might not be able to hit him like I want to. I might have to slow down a little bit.”
With the disqualification penalty entering its second year, Joseph said he’s better acclimated to delivering hits without hesitating.
“I feel like I’m more comfortable so I know what’s allowed and what’s not,” he said. “I have a better understanding of where to attack receivers.”
HOLD UP, HENRY
While freshman Dravon Henry’s eager-beaver approach to camp earned instant respect from teammates, his thirst for hopping to the front of the line in every drill might need to be tempered.
“I talked to him about that,” said sophomore cornerback Daryl Worley. “I just told him you might have to hold back a little bit. You don’t want to burn yourself out when you’re getting started.”
SAMS NOT SAME
At 232 pounds, Isaiah Bruce has 20 pounds and two seasons of Big 12 experience over Edward Muldrow, the player with whom he’s splitting reps at Sam linebacker.
But because Muldrow has a wide edge in speed, it’s likely the pair will be deployed in a situational platoon.
“Ed’s probably a better pass rusher than me because he’s extremely quick,” Bruce said. “He’s one of the quickest guys on the team, and that’s including offense, in my opinion. Me, I can see things faster because I’ve been here for a while. I can see things before they happen.”
Bruce hasn’t hid his elation over being back at a middle linebacker spot, where two years ago he made 94 tackles and earned freshman All-American honors. Yet he feels the slender Muldrow can hold up surprisingly well against bigger linemen.
“Ed might not look it, but he’s extremely strong,” Bruce said. “He switches it up to keep the O-line guessing a lot. Sometimes he’ll go in and hit them extremely hard, and the next time they come a little softer and he’ll just slip (past) them. He has the O-line on their heels a lot.”