By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – After 33 starts, including 30 straight, it would have come as no surprise if R.J. Dill left Maryland for the NFL. Instead, he departed for Rutgers.
The fifth year senior decided leave College Park for Piscataway to start pursing his graduate degree.
Dill also needed to further prepare himself for the pro game. Not so much physically. The 6-foot-7, 310-pound right tackle needed another year to get ready mentally.
“Emotionally I probably wasn’t ready for that side of football to be a business yet,” Dill told SNY.tv.
Not to mention that there’s no replacing running out of the tunnel on fall Saturday’s to the roar of a raucous college crowd.
“I wanted to continue playing college football,” Dill said. “There’s something special about playing college football.”
And it’s not just the game day atmosphere. It’s the every day environment of a college football team that Dill wasn’t ready to let go.
“At the next level they’re you’re coworkers and your employed. And here you’re a brotherhood and you’re a family,” Dill said. “And that’s an experience that I wasn’t willing to miss out on or pass up and being able to be a part of this has truly been a blessing.”
Of course, this past year has better prepared Dill on the field as well. Something he credits the coaching staff for.
“I think having [head] coach [Kyle] Flood and [offensive line] coach [Damian] Wroblewski prepared me and worked hard and pushed me and even [offensive coordinator Dave] Brock who pushed me every day,” Dill said. “I think that’s been a blessing to be involved with coaches of that caliber and care enough to push me even though I only had one year here to continue to get better and it really has prepared me and given me a better opportunity to keep playing football.”
And Dill’s final opportunity to continue playing college football will come after the Russell Athletic Bowl.
The Mechanicsburg, Pa native has been invited to play in the East-West Shrine game at Tropicana Field on January 19 at 4:00 p.m. It’s another opportunity for Dill to showcase his talents to NFL scouts, general managers and coaches.
“It’s an extreme honor. It’s a very prestigious game,” Dill said. “It’s been going on for 88 years now and it’s extremely an honor to be a part of and be associated with an All-Star game of that caliber and I’m excited that I got the invitation and I have a place to continue to springboard my career.”