The clash with defending National Champion Clemson did not go as well as some may have hoped. With all the negativity swirling from this lop sided loss, there is certainly something that needs to be celebrated, star running back AJ Dillon. Becoming the all time leading rusher in school history is a big deal. Just look at the history of backs who have played in Chestnut Hill: Andre Williams, Derrick Knight, Mike Cloud and William Greene just to name a few. Lets take a look at how this all unfolded and what AJ Dillon means to the BC program.
AJ Dillon was a top high school prospect out of Lawrence Academy, who was heavily recruited by top schools across the country. It came with great disappointment to BC nation when the news broke that Dillon had committed former defensive coordinator Don Brown and the University of Michigan. Although it was not a huge surprise given the disparity in the level of the two programs, it was a crushing blow to BC fans. Then things started to change and fast. Michigan was reportedly not interested in having Dillon as a running, instead wanting him to play linebacker. After some contemplation AJ, and a strong desire to stay at running back, he not only decommited from the Wolverines but flipped to the school close to his home Boston College. Coach Steve Addazio would now have the crown jewel to a recruiting class that included Isaiah McDuffie, Hunter Long, Brandon Sebastian, and Alec Lindstrom.
Going into the 2017 season, starting running back Jon Hilliman had never fully recovered him his broken foot two seasons prior. It took a until week 7, but AJ introduced himself with the stiff arm heard around college football against the Louisville Cardinals, a game in which he ran for 274 yards and four touchdowns. The turn around of a 2-4 team that went on to win 5 of their remaining 6 regular season games making the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, falling to Iowa. Dillon finished his freshman season with an astounding 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns, incredible given his limited time as a starter.
With a lot of new founded expectations and a strong recurring cast, the 2018 Eagles sought to build on their previous 2nd half of the season's success. BC began the season 3-0 for the first time since 2007, returned to the top 25 ranking for the first time since 2008 and made their first ever appearance in the college football playoff rankings. AJ looked strong, with big games against Holy Cross, Wake Forest and UMass. But Dillon hurt his ankle on what looked like a high sprain against Temple, and although he continued playing he couldn't remain as affective during the second half of the season. He went down much easier on hits and lacked explosiveness that he had showed over the past year. However, AJ showed true heart and character week after week of gutting it out despite his hurt ankle.
With a strong showing this season, the Eagles back is now the leading rusher in Boston College history. It is incredible he has already broken the record given his lack of playing time his freshman year and an injury riddled sophomore year. AJ Dillon has embodied everything the university's mantra, "Ever to Excel" stands for carrying the offense on his broad shoulders, and bearing hit after hit and still running with tenacity.
It should not go without saying just what this man means to the program. Eagles fan have yearned for an offensive talent since the days of Matt Ryan, and Dillon has more than fulfilled that and should make Eagle fans and the university proud. Congrats to AJ Dillon, it has been a pleasure to witness this achievement and its far from over yet.