FRANKLINTON — Unzipping his gray jacket Wednesday morning, Derrick Dillon sent the 400 or so people assembled at the Pine High School gymnasium into an uproar.
Meanwhile, the noise was equally loud across Louisiana.
Dillon, a 6-foot, 180-pound receiver at this tiny school in rural Washington Parish, flipped his verbal commitment from Florida to LSU during National Signing Day. It wasn’t an entirely unexpected move, as Dillon seemed to favor the Tigers over the Gators in recent weeks.
Nevertheless, his revealing of a purple and gold jersey (No. 18, by the way) caused an uproar at Pine. His fellow teammates stormed the gymnasium floor and hoisted Dillon atop their shoulders in celebration. It was, without question, the biggest athletic signing in the school’s history, Pine administrators said.
For his part, Dillon said he had a dream a few days ago about playing in Tiger Stadium. Surely a solid push from fellow All-American Derrius Guice helped. Guice, a running back at Catholic High and an LSU commitment, was Dillon’s roommate at the U.S. Army All-America Bowl.
Aiding in the decision to head to Baton Rouge was that the Tigers eventually offered the four-star recruit a chance to play receiver at LSU — his desired position. Dillon played a host of positions at Pine, including quarterback his senior year. Some analysts projected him as a defensive back in college.
“The change in coaches at Florida had something to do with it. Plus, when I went to LSU again, I felt right at home,” Dillon said. “That helped me decide. They showed me a video of Jarvis Landry playing the slot and they compared us, showing how I play and how he plays.”
Dillon did a little bit of everything for the Raiders in his prep career, playing quarterback, running back, receiver, defensive back and special teams. He led the state in rushing his junior season with more than 2,000 yards, and as a quarterback his senior year, he came back with 1,648 rushing yards. He also threw for 1,048 yards and totaled 32 touchdowns during his final season at Pine.
Dillon said he also received a healthy dose of arm-twisting from the Pine community, who by and large are LSU fans.
“They would ask me where I was going and I’d say ‘Florida,’ ” Dillon said. “They said, ‘Nah, you need to come on down to Baton Rouge.’ ”
Pine coach Bradley Seal said LSU not only is getting a good football player, but a good person.
“I’ve never had someone of his magnitude,” Seal said. “He’s a great kid. He did it with class. Everything he’s been asked to do on the field, and in this recruiting process, he put team first. He’s a total team player. He’ll bring that to LSU.”