The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

April 10, 2014

Dillon learns to deal with diabetes

MORGANTOWN — What does West Virginia safety/linebacker K.J. Dillon have in common with Arthur Ashe, Bobby Clarke, Jay Cutler, Buster Douglas, Walt Frazier, Catfish Hunter, Billie Jean King, Adam Morrison, Ron Santo, Jack Tatum, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Robinson and, of all people, Ty Cobb and Jackie Robinson?


Quite a list of talented athletes and one that could be greatly extended, showing that a diagnosis of diabetes does not mean you cannot go on to great accomplishments if you take care of yourself and follow doctor’s orders.

That is just what Dillon is doing after he went through quite a scare last year following the Texas game.

West Virginia had just lost an overtime game to the Longhorns.

“It was the scariest thing I ever went through,” Dillon said. “I’m glad that’s behind me now.”

Let’s allow him to take us back to that night.

“After the game I went home and laid down, and within the next 10 or 15 minutes my body just started to lock up,” Dillon said. “I had full-body cramps, serious headaches. I was throwing up everywhere. I was just in bad shape.”

And lucky.

If it had happened after a mid-week practice he might have been alone at home.

It being the night of a game, his mother and sister had come up from Florida and were staying with him.

“They saw me in there screaming and called the ambulance,” Dillon said. “Thank God they were there. I don’t know what would have happened if they weren’t there.”

He was rushed off to the hospital.

“I was in the hospital for three or four days and they just told me I was extremely dehydrated and my body just started to eat itself. I couldn’t handle it anymore and just passed out. When I woke up the next day, they told me I was that close to dying,” Dillon recalled.

Those are words that will get your attention.

Dehydration is nothing to mess with as an athlete — as the invention of Gatorade all those years ago and its many imitators has shown, creating an entire hydration market. This is especially true if you are suffering from diabetes.

“It was just being dehydrated and not taking care of myself (as far as monitoring blood sugar levels),” Dillon said. “I played the whole game, 90-some snaps, and didn’t even take any water.”

What was bothersome about that having happened was that the previous season Dillon had spent a night in the hospital for a similar incident, although he was able to play in that week’s game.

This was scarier, though, and has gotten his attention.

“Things have changed as far as better diet and the way I take care of myself, the things I do on and off the field,” Dillon said. “I check my blood sugar levels more and do more things diabetic-wise that I should have been doing that I wasn’t.

“It’s nothing drastic, but everything is changing for the better.”

To begin with, he’s back to a full-sized player.

Among the things that have changed for the better is Dillon’s weight. He says it had little or nothing at all to do with the diabetes or the dehydration, but the junior-to-be began last season at about 200 pounds and by that Texas game was down to 179.

Remember, this is a guy playing near or at the line of scrimmage in Division I football. At 6-1 and 179 pounds.

“Yeah, trying to make plays at 179 pounds is kind of hard,” he said.

One of the things he had to do during the off-season was to get his weight back up, which sometimes is difficult with diabetes, but he’s accomplished it, weighing 209 at present.

“From 179 to 210 in a matter of three or four months, I think that’s pretty good,” he said.

Dillon will be watched closely during the season to see that the diabetes stays in check and that he maintains his weight, for he has become a key member of the defense, a hybrid who gives them great versatility and adds to the blitz package.

“He has been very disruptive on defense and more disciplined,” coach Dana Holgorsen said Saturday before WVU’s open spring practice in Charleston. “He has always been disruptive on defense, but sometimes he was disruptive for himself or me (more) than he has (been for) opposing defenses. Now he is more disciplined, lining up better, staying on his feet and making more plays on defense, as well.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

  • WVU hoping to add two non-conference contests

    West Virginia is nearing the completion of deals to play football games against long-time rival Virginia Tech, now in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Tennessee of the Southeastern Conference, according to a source close to the negotiations.
    An announcement is expected shortly.

    July 15, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads