MORGANTOWN - The way K.J. Dillon figures it, little that can happen on Saturday afternoons this season will test him the way he's already being tested in practice.
Well, at least not from a physical standpoint.
Dillon is West Virginia's 6-foot-2, 195-pound true freshman safety from Apopka, Fla. Despite not arriving until this summer and in part because of an injury to Darwin Cook, he's spent most of this week running with the Mountaineers' No. 1 defense.
Intimidating for a freshman? Sure. But could there be any better preparation?
"There's no more Tavon Austins out there in the world, no more Stedman Baileys, no more Geno [Smith] picking you off,'' Dillon said, referring to his daily ritual of having to defend WVU's highly acclaimed passing trio. "I'm going against the best every day. I'm playing with the big boys now, the big dogs, every day.''
It looks like Dillon won't be finished when camp ends, either. From defending West Virginia's offense he'll likely switch to defending those in the Big 12. He's been that impressive so far in camp.
A daunting assignment for a freshman? Yes, but it's one Dillon readily accepts.
"I'm more excited than scared because I always dreamed of playing against the big guys like Oklahoma and Texas and all those teams,'' Dillon said. "Nervous? Yes, but I'm still more excited than scared.''
There are actually two true freshmen who could either start or see significant time at safety right away. The other is Karl Joseph, who arrived as an early enrollee in January, went through spring drills and sat atop the depth chart when fall camp began.
West Virginia assistant coach Steve Dunlap doesn't coach the safeties anymore - he's working with the outside linebackers and the special teams - but he might be the best one to put the abilities of Dillon and Joseph into a Mountaineer context.