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August 7, 2018

AJ Dillon

Boston, Massachusetts

THE MODERATOR: Questions for AJ.

Q. General comment on the goals coming into this season.
AJ DILLON: I'd say my biggest goal is to definitely be an all-purpose back that my coaches and my teammates can count on in any situation. Something like Coach Addazio was talking about at one of our individual team meetings, he brought up with Michael Jordan quote: they practice so hard that the game is never easy.

Now being thrust into more of a leadership role, being my second year playing, having some experience under my belt, I see what is expected of just anybody that's on the field at any point in time. It's where I want to be. There's a lot of points last year I can point to myself where I wasn't satisfied with my play. I'm really trying to work out going 100% all camp so I can be leader by action to the younger freshmen we have, older guys, whoever needs the motivation during camp.

Essentially just kind of expecting the most out of myself, kind of motivating everybody else to reach their fullest potential.

Q. (Question about Anthony being back.)
AJ DILLON: It's going to be tremendous. Anthony is my roommate this year, during camp. He's probably my first friend besides guys that I went to high school with, my first friend on the team, during the recruiting process. It's going to be great. I'm excited for him. He's healthy. He's a leader. He's been a leader since he first got here.

There's a lot I'm taking from him, just learning the offense. He has so much knowledge of the game already. I'm just trying to take a lot of that from him.

Q. Can you share with us what it was like to have to help him through the recovery process.
AJ DILLON: I mean, a lot of it was him. He's a really strong guy. But when I could, I just kind of give him words of encouragement. During the games, I could definitely it was hard for him being on the sideline.

Not just me, the entire team, that's our quarterback, that's one of our leaders. We all just really hoping for a speedy recovery. He's back now, and we're anxious to get him back on the field.

Q. What about the relationship between you and the offensive line? They have confidence because you're back there. I imagine you have confidence because they're in front of you.
AJ DILLON: Yeah, I've always had an appreciation for my offensive line ever since I first started to run a ball. When I first started to play, I actually played tackle because I just weighed so much. Then I was a tight end, back in the Pop Warner days. Maybe it started there.

I've always had a great relationship with my line. The line here, they're great guys, great individuals. We joke around a lot. I always go over there, see them after practice. They call me the horse. Actually before the spring game, I didn't play, but they brought me sugar cubes and carrots. We have a bunch of little jokes like that. When I have extra donuts, I'd bring them over and feed them.

We have a great relationship. That definitely I feel like shows up during game time, just knowing I know I want to do well for them, they want to do well for me, then we have unbelievable trust. I can speak to that 100%. I trust all those guys out on the field without a doubt.

Q. You said there were times last year you weren't happy with your performance on the field. Can you tell us what you might have done differently, what you didn't do right?
AJ DILLON: Definitely a big, big factor for me, probably number one overall, was definitely stamina. Coming from high school, going to college, I always say one carry in high school is the equivalent of two and a half in college. You have to work so hard for each yard. There's definitely a lot more that goes into it.

There are certain times where I'd be tired in the backfield, just kind of -- you can see it on the film where I definitely could have made another move, another cut, pushed for a couple extra yards. Those add up.

Like this year I'm going to be someone -- not that I'm never going to get tired, but I'm going to give 100% each play I'm out there, 100% effort. That's what I expect of myself. That's what I'm trying to do now in camp as I'm getting those reps.

Then just catching in the backfield, a lot of things I didn't get to display last year. I worked on my speed, my agility over the winter, spring, especially with Anthony, doing whatever he could. We worked together a lot. I'm excited to kind of put everything I've been working on on display.

Q. (Question about expectations.)
AJ DILLON: I'd be lying if I said it didn't -- obviously I guess my assumed status didn't change. I don't really pay much attention to that. Obviously I'm honored to have any accolades or anything thrust upon me. It's definitely a tremendous honor. I'm appreciative of it.

When it comes down to this game, I don't really try to focus much on individual things. So I guess the biggest piece that I could take away from life changing was definitely the fact that I'm called on to be a leader now. We have freshmen that just came in. We have two freshmen backs right now. They're in the spot I was last year. Head spinning around in camp after each play is called. I'm trying to be proactive and teach them.

Like Anthony just said, it's great we don't just have one leader on this team. We have three, four, five. Look to your left or right, find somebody to lead. Now being one of those people, I guess that's the biggest expectation. I really want to lead by example with my play, with how I carry myself, my demeanor. That's the biggest thing that's changed for me.

Q. Was there something where a switch went on, a confidence level you hit during the season?
AJ DILLON: Yeah, I definitely would say that Louisville probably was when I first started to kind of realize that I started to trust myself. As the year progresses week by week, I'm not sure, you can always tell as a player how you're running. I can definitely tell as we progress week by week kind of where I was. I know from the beginning of the year I didn't really trust myself. You can see me kind of thinking through cuts, trying to figure out.

Now as we've progressed, I've started to think more loosely, more fluid, just kind of understand, Okay, these are all scholarship guys, these are scholarship guys, I deserve to be here, too. That's probably the biggest thing as a freshman or anybody that started playing, getting that confidence and realizing you're just as good as a guy across the line.

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