High School Sports

Gulfport linebacker ‘all in’ as he signs with Air Force Academy

Karlos Dillard admits that he didn’t give much thought to attending a military academy when he first started looking at colleges.

On Wednesday, the Gulfport linebacker made his commitment to the Air Force Academy official by signing his letter of intent.

“(A military academy) wasn’t at the top of the list until I went on an official visit and realized it was nothing like I thought it was,” Dillard said. “There were a lot of benefits and a lot of pros and one con. I really liked the opportunity, so I decided to go with it.”

As far as the one con, Dillard said that was the military aspect.

“I’m not used to going through stuff like that, so it will be hard for me,” he said. “There are guys that are also coming in. I’m really close with them so we’ll get through it.”

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Dillard was pushed hard by former Gulfport coach Eddie Pierce and his staff the last four years, but he understands the Air Force Academy will be a different animal.

“This is way different than football discipline,” he said. “It will help me become a better man. I’m all in and I have to go through it regardless.”

While he knows he will be entering an entirely new situation in Colorado Springs, Dillard was just as thrilled as any other player to sign Wednesday.

“It feels like a blessing,” he said. “I woke up very excited today and had to thank God for giving me the athletic and academic ability to receive this scholarship.”

As for the 1,300-mile trek to Colorado Springs, that’s no problem.

“It is a really long way from home, total three hours on a plane,” he said. “When I went there on an official visit, it got cold at night. I feel like I’ll adapt. I’ll be fine.”

Dillard was a member of the Sun Herald All-South Mississippi Team as both a junior and senior. He also picked up scholarship offers from Army, Princeton, Jackson State, Nicholls, Northwestern State, Alcorn State and Cornell.

Dillard feels like’s Wednesday’s occasion was a major step forward for himself.

“I feel like I finally made it to where I want to be in life,” he said. “Even though I’m not done, I feel like I’m close.”

Also signing from Gulfport: Defensive lineman Jeremiah Braziel (East Mississippi CC), defensive lineman GiNarious Johnson (Pearl River CC) and defensive lineman Brandon Kees (Bethany College).

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee