Soon-to-be freshman tight end Nic DiLillo is almost ready to begin his career at Ohio State. The Madison product will be heading to Columbus with one goal in mind — to see the field as a freshman.
“At first, it was so exciting to know that I was going to be a buckeye someday,” DiLillo (6-5, 245) said. “Now I can almost say ‘I am a Buckeye.’”
Just a year ago didn’t seem like it was a dream that was going to become a reality for the Madison High School senior. All that changed when he received a text message from head coach Jim Tressel while he was at an Indians game last July, officially offering a scholarship to DiLillo. He was surprised to read, “Hello Nic. This is Coach Tressel. I was wondering how an Ohio State scholarship would feel for you.”
That caused DiLillo to switch his verbal commitment from Pitt to Ohio State and he has been preparing himself for the opportunity in Columbus ever since.
DiLillo said, “I’ve been working my tail off lately. I’m lifting six times a week. I’m running and working with my coaches. I’ve been doing everything I can to get ready for the next level. I’m not where I’m going to fall. I’m not sure if I’m going to redshirt, but I’m going to get after it when I get down there.”
The possibility of redshirting is something that DiLillo would accept, but he wants the chance to help the team this season.
“Realistically I’m coming with the attitude that I’m going to start,” said DiLillo. “I’m going to work so hard that hopefully the coaches will say, ‘You know, we can’t redshirt this guy. We’ve got to put him somewhere.’ Whether it’s kickoffs or special teams or wherever, I plan on coming in and showing the coaches what I’m all about.”
The 2008 recruiting class is unlike any class for the Buckeyes in the past in that they were in constant communication with each other and formed a bond quickly. Some of those recruits graduated high school early, went through spring practice and have given DiLillo the Cliff’s Notes on what the competition level is like at Ohio State.
“They said it’s a whole other level,” said DiLillo, projected to wear No. 81 this fall. “They said that at high school ball you’re a big star and when you get to college you’re just a little fish in the sea again. They said that you have to just work really hard. They’ve been working their tails off too, and it’s showing because some of them are really getting reps right now.”
As the “new kid on the block” DiLillo said that he’s not afraid to ask questions to help get better. At college he’ll have his position coach and that junior (Jake Ballard) and senior (Rory Nichol) to go to with questions.
“I’m going to learn from them all the time,” said DiLillo, who will be majoring in communications at Ohio State. “I’m thinking that they’re probably going to get tired of me. I just want to learn. I’ll be getting stuff from two guys that I really respect and there. They’ve been there and they’ve done it. I think that the best advice is from people like that.”
Set to room with fellow recruits Zach Domicone, Nathan Williams and Ben Buchanan, DiLillo said that the entire class had a bond that developed over the last year.
“Some teams, they’re okay with each other,” said DiLillo. “But they have their cliques. We’re just one big team. That’s one thing that I think is going to help us in the future.”
Speaking of the future, DiLillo talked a little bit about what he hopes to see happen in Columbus over the next four years.
“My number one goal right now is that I want to play,” said DiLillo. “I want to play as a freshman. I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not. The two guys ahead of me are a senior and a junior. Really, I just want to make the Buckeyes a better team. Whether that means blocking on every single play or catching the ball doesn’t matter. Whatever my best fit is for them, then that’s what I want to do.”