Where are they Now: From Florida Orange & Blue to Army Green

Aug 19, 2020 | 0 comments

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As a 19-game starter at center for the Gators from 2013-16, Cam Dillard was responsible for protecting four different starting quarterbacks.

Now, he’s responsible for protecting the free world as an officer in the U.S. Army.

In this edition of Where are they now, Dillard takes us through his football career; explains why he decided to join the Army; tells the heartwarming story of how he and his wife, Riley, adopted their son, Emmitt, and more.

Take us back to your recruiting process. What schools did you consider, and why did you choose Florida?

“Probably my top schools were – let me think about it; going back, that’s a few years ago – Oregon, Florida State, Clemson. Those were probably my top schools, I would say. But it definitely was between Oregon and Florida for the most part.”

What separated Florida and made them the choice?

“In the South, you either grow up an ACC or SEC fan, so me being originally from North Carolina, I just always grew up a little Gator fan. Basically, when your dream school that you grow up cheering for offers you a full-ride scholarship, it’s kind of hard to turn that down when you have the opportunity to go play for them.”

What was the toughest part of adjusting to college?

“It was probably the speed of the game, especially at center, just having to do so much of the calls and adjustments, things like that. I always had to fix the line and make sure everybody was good to go. Going from high school where you kind of just make sure the team’s good to go, doing your job to try to get recruited, and be the best player that you can be personally. You have to take all that and then carry that over to college and then do that on the offensive line as well. That was probably the biggest adjustment, having to make all those corrections and changes for the line.”

What were the biggest differences between Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain as the head coach?

“Obviously, it’s pretty much two ends of the spectrum there. Coach Muschamp was a heavy defensive guy, and Coach Mac was more of a heavy offensive guy. So, we definitely had those two ends of the spectrum there. Different coaching philosophies, different styles that they had, different ways they approached certain situations and how they handled things were probably the biggest differences that I saw. But, both were definitely good coaches and gave me all of the opportunities in the world that I could ask for and more, so I do appreciate them being able to give me the opportunity to play for the best university there is in the country.”

What was the biggest difference between your two offensive line coaches, Tim Davis and Mike Summers?

“I really wasn’t with Coach Davis that long. I was only with him my true freshman year, that summer and then maybe a little bit in the spring. I think Coach Summers was there for the majority of it, but biggest thing I remember from Coach Davis was he did a really good job of making sure, from what I saw, the older guys were always prepared, ready to go. Coach Summers I feel like I was able to build a little more rapport with. Obviously, Coach Davis’ son, Nick Davis, I was really good friends with. Having him there was a huge helper trying to get used to his dad’s philosophies and schemes and things like that. I liked Coach Summers a lot just for the way he broke things down and made sure that if we needed to have extra meetings or do whatever we need to do to be prepared, he always made his personal time available to us.”

What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Florida?

“There’s a bunch. Beating Ole Miss at night back in 2015 when we were ranked pretty high. I don’t remember the exact rank. Beating LSU, always a good one. Obviously, when we had the huge throw against Tennessee to beat them [in 2015]. Beating Georgia for sure. While I was at Florida, beating Georgia [three] of those years is definitely a huge thing to brag about. I actually ran into an officer here on base the other day that had some Bulldog shorts on at the gym, so I can razz him about it. That’s always good. I think those are probably my top moments. Just being able to run out of the tunnel with all 90-some-thousand fans screaming. You can’t beat that.”

How much do you think having three offensive coordinators in four years and a bunch of different quarterbacks hamstrung the offense and kept it from being as good as it could’ve been?

“I definitely think it slowed down the process because you’re obviously always constantly learning, but, when you’re constantly having to learn something new every spring or every two springs, it’s like, ‘How do we get that flow?’. We can definitely tell now that Florida’s on its right path up where we’re heading and the direction that they want to go. I think that you can tell that having the foundation there that you know is going to be there for a while and not going to be here for a five-minute stop definitely helps. I think you can tell that last year with how Florida did.”

Who were the toughest defensive linemen you had to go against in practice?

“Most of them are still in the NFL. So, I had to go against Jonathan Bullard, Dominique Easley, Caleb Brantley, Joey Ivie, all those guys. I played against them every day in practice, and they’re still in the league right now, so pretty much any defensive lineman that’s going to come through Florida is a big-time stud. All the whole Florida D-line in general, considering we’ve got so many in the NFL still.”

What went into your decision to transfer, and how hard was it to leave?

“It was definitely hard to leave because so many friends, so many memories made there. But, I had opportunities to go somewhere else, and I just felt like at the moment that was the best decision for me to kind of push through that and go on from there. There were some different things that went into it, different thoughts, different conversations, things like that that I had personally. All-in-all, it wasn’t somebody did something or anything like that.”

How did North Carolina come about?

“Honestly, it was just like the whole recruiting process all over again. North Carolina had an open slot for me that I could fit into, and I thought Coach [Chris Kapilovic] there, the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator, had a great scheme that would fit me well, and it did. I got there and was able to have an immediate impact on the team and bring some senior leadership to them and different things from an SEC school. Just playing in two big-time conferences, nothing beats playing in the SEC. I can definitely tell you that.”

Did you have any opportunities to play professionally, or did you know that college was going to be it for you?

“I definitely had the opportunity with the Baltimore Ravens and the Atlanta Falcons, but after going to camp with them and things like that, we all have that day where our time comes, and once those days passed by, it was kind of time, and I had kids, so I didn’t want to continue to chase after this goal and dream of mine and put them on the backburner. So, I started going into the, I guess, quote-unquote real world and doing a normal job, I guess, so to speak.”

Why did you decide to join the Army?

“I missed competition. I missed the team environment. I’ve always wanted to serve, so always standing for the national anthem and all the soldiers that we celebrate and do all the big events for, it’s like ‘Wow, that’s really cool that somebody stopped what they were doing in their life and put themselves on the line in front of all of us so that we can play a game, go have fun, have our barbecues, do whatever we want to do.’ I feel like I’ve always had this calling in me to kind of serve. My biggest thing is serve before you take. I feel like we’re definitely in a world now where everybody is like, ‘What are you going to get me?’. So, I think it’s a good lesson to teach my kids, too. Always make sure you’re giving before you’re taking.”

What is your role in the Army?

“Right now, I’m a forward observer, 13 Fox. So, basically, to sum it up, it’s go sit on an observation post and you look for enemy targets and call in artillery.”

Did you have to lose a lot of weight to join the Army as a 300-pound lineman?

“I did. So, I ended up going from 330 all the way down to 218. Lots of running. I was able to get really leaned out, put on good muscle mass and do it the right way. I got to one point where I was super skinny and I was like, ‘Man, I need to start putting some muscle back on.’ So, I started hitting the gym and things like that. Then I was like, ‘All right, perfect. So, I think this is what I want to go do. I want to join the Army and see where things can take me.’”

What did you learn through football that you feel like prepared you for military life?

“It goes hand-in-hand with everything. The discipline, you’ve always got to meet your time. The Army is big on making time and making sure that you’re at the right place at the right time. That’s all about college football. That’s what that teaches you the whole time. I like the duty as an offensive lineman. You’ve got your duty to protect the guys behind you but also make sure that everyone around you is good. That kind of goes hand-in-hand here where you can see that I’ve got to make sure the guy to the right and left of me is good because if he’s not, then I’m not. That’s why I really like it. I like that team camaraderie and kind of be able to just make sure that you’re watching over the guy next to you.”

For those that don’t know, can you tell the story of how you and your wife ended up adopting your son?

“It’s pretty crazy, but a girl she [went] to high school with actually hit her up out of the blue. I guess she had kind of been following us. We had a miscarriage. We were pretty open about it. We were pretty open about one day we wanted to adopt kids. It kind of came about. She said, ‘I don’t know what’s been telling me this, but I feel like you’re supposed to adopt my baby.’ And we were like, ‘What? No way.’ But, we talked about it and prayed about it, and that’s been the best decision we have. My son’s now 4, and I would never change that for the world. Just being able to be a father definitely matures you quickly; that’s for sure. She reached out to us, and we said, ‘Yeah, absolutely, 100 percent.’ We helped support his birth mother all the way up until the birth and then adopted him and had him at the hospital, and from day one he’s been our son.”

What are your thoughts on the current state of the Gators’ program?

“I think Coach [Dan] Mullen and his staff are doing an awesome job. I still stay in touch with some of the guys there that are on the team still, Brett Heggie, Stone [Forsythe], a couple of those guys that were still around when I was there. Talking to them, I don’t see why we wouldn’t be in contention for a national championship. I think Florida’s strength program is definitely where it’s at. You see these guys posting pictures all the time of the amount of mass and size they’re putting on. So, it just shows you the nutrition program [and] everything is on the right path, and they’ve finally got that formula figured out where it’s a well-run machine compared to my time. I feel like there was a lot of the speed bumps and constant change where now it feels like you’ve got that right shoe on the right foot.”

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